Old Star Erupts with Dust- Accuweather.com– Mark Paquette

May 2, 2012; 9:47 AM ET
Images from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) reveal an old star giving out a fiery outburst and spraying the cosmos with dust. This shows a rare, real-time look at the process by which stars like our sun seed the universe with building blocks for other stars, planets and even life.
Results indicate the star recently exploded with copious amounts of fresh dust, equivalent in mass to our planet Earth. The star is heating the dust and causing it to glow with infrared light (heat energy).
The aging star is in the “red giant” phase of its life. Our own sun will expand into a red giant in about 5 billion years. When a star begins to run out of fuel, it cools and expands. As the star puffs up, it sheds layers of gas that cool and congeal into tiny dust particles. This is one of the main ways dust is recycled in our universe, making its way from older stars to newborn solar systems. The other way, in which the heaviest of elements are made, is through the deathly explosions, or supernovae, of the most massive stars.
Astronomers used images from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, to locate an aging star shedding loads of dust (orange dot at upper left).

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