Comet-like tail discovered behind speeding star

Mira A, a dying star, hurtling through spaceA dying star hurtling through space has left a comet-like tail that reveals its history stretching back 30,000 years.

"This is an utterly new phenomenon to us, and we are still in the process of understanding the physics involved," said study team member Mark Seibert of the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California. "We hope to be able to read Mira's tail like a ticker tape to learn about the star's life."

The red-giant star, called Mira A, is streaming a comet-like tail behind it that is 13-light-years long-thousands of times the breadth of our solar system. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). The tail is like a glowing bread-crumb trail in the sky showing the star's movements for the past 30 millennia, during which time it has shed large stores of carbon, oxygen and other elements.

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