PerspectiveAstronomy

A Stellar Swan-Song

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  08 Apr 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5719, pp. 210-211
DOI: 10.1126/science.1110366

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Via your Institution

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Summary

Some stars can temporarily avoid fading to oblivion as white dwarfs by re-igniting nuclear burning. In such an event, a hot stellar ember balloons within a few years from about the size of Earth to a cool giant star some 100 times the size of the Sun. About 20% of stars like the Sun are predicted to undergo such an episode, but because this phase is very short, only three such born-again giants have ever been observed in the act. In his Perspective, Asplund describes the discovery by Hajduk et al. that the born-again giant Sakurai's object has started to heat up and contract again, only ~10 years after it first swelled up to gigantic proportions. New stellar evolution calculations can explain the extremely rapid transformation of the star.

Related Content