Credit: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Chi Cygni, a red giant star as shown in this artist's
conception of Betelgeuse, is nearing the end of its life.
Credit: ESO/L. Calçada
One day our Sun will eventually die. But it won't be tomorrow ... in fact, it will only happen in 5000 million years.
Chi Cygni changes brightness dramatically and regularly
every 408 days due to in-and-out pulsations.
Credit: Sylvestre Lacour, Observatoire de Paris
About 550 light-years from Earth, a star like our Sun is writhing in its death throes. Chi Cygni has swollen in size to become a red giant star so large that it would swallow every planet out to Mars in our solar system. Moreover, it has begun to pulse dramatically in and out, beating like a giant heart. New close-up photos of the surface of this distant star show its throbbing motions in unprecedented detail. (read more)