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Hubble captures dying star

A star's death is drawn out -- and embarrassing. As the star loses its faculties, it's slowly stripped naked.

By Brooks Hays
A star's prolonged death makes for a beautifully colorful nebula. Photo by NASA/ESA/Hubble
A star's prolonged death makes for a beautifully colorful nebula. Photo by NASA/ESA/Hubble

WASHINGTON, July 31 (UPI) -- A new image -- captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and released by NASA -- reveals a dying star in its final moments.

It should be noted, however, that final moments mean different things for stars and humans. Like a wealthy patriarch who just can't seem to part with his estate, a dying star seems to hold onto the last threads of life forever.

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This particular star, NGC 6565, will likely drag its death out over the course of 10,000 years. Astronomers shouldn't wait around for the inheritance.

A star's passage is not only painfully prolonged, it's also rather embarrassing. As the star loses its faculties, it's slowly stripped naked. Stellar winds blow its outer layers into the surrounding nebula of gas and dust, exposing the star's inner core.

But embarrassing for stars is beautiful for astronomers. As the star is unpeeled, intense ultraviolet radiation is exposed. As it interacts with the surrounding gas, an array of intense colors results -- as evidenced by the latest Hubble image.

All good things must come to an end, though. At the close of the star's prolonged death -- it's journey toward white dwarf status -- its energy fades and so does the glow of the surrounding nebula.

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