MIRA TYPE VARIABLE STAR: T-LEPORIS.
Photo By: ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT). CLICK photo for full size, links and a video below.
Approximately 500 light years distant is the Mira Type Variable Star: T-Leporis in the constellation Lepus. It pulsates every 380 days and, like other Mira type variables, its one of the greatest producers of dust and molecules in the universe. This example loses Earths mass into space every year. As seen in this photo by the VLT T-Leporis is approximately 100 times larger than the Sun, its size easily engulfing Earth’s orbit.
What you see in this photo is the star itself is greater detail than ever before. Surrounding the star is a shell of dense material that the star has “puffed” out into the universe.
A Mira-Type Variable Star (Named for the star Mira), is a red giant star that is nearing the end of its life. As it does so it swells and contracts, changing in brightness and size like other variable stars. Mira type stars are typically very red, have pulsation cycles of longer than 100 days and change more than 2.5 powers of magnitude in the process. Eventually like other stars that die in this fashion (Like our Sun) this process will finally end in a brilliant planetary nebula that hosts a white dwarf at its center. It truly is somewhat more complex than this but this is a great starting point if you would like to understand Mira Variables.
NAME: T-Leporis, HD 32803, SAO 170041.
WHAT IS IT?: Mira-Type Variable Star with a pulsation cycle of 380 days, spectral class M62.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Approximately 500 light years distant.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Approximately 100 times larger than the Sun in diameter.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE: A pretty dim 10 or +10.
WHARE IS IT? (General): Constellation Lepus the hare at the feet of Orion the hunter along with Columbia.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 05h 04m 50s / DEC -21° 54′ 16,5″.
ESO VLT T-Leporis: http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso0906a/
ESO T-Leporis to scale: http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso0906b/
ESO Zoom In Video: http://www.eso.org/public/videos/eso0906a/
T Leporis ZOOM: