Pulsating Red Giant S-Ori
Sketch of the structure of a pulsating red giant, as derived by the recent interferometric study on S Orionis. The environment around the parent star is made up by three main components: a molecular shell (inner red layer), a dust shell (outer red layer) and a maser shell (red and green speckles). Grains of aluminum oxide constitute most of the dust shell (observed in the infrared band), while the maser radio emission comes from silicon monoxide molecules. The maser spots velocities indicates that the gas is expanding, at a speed of about 10 km/s. (Credit: ESO)
A star such as the Sun will lose between a third and half of its mass during the Mira phase.
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"Because we are all stardust, studying the phases in the life of a star when processed matter is sent back to the interstellar medium to be used for the next generation of stars, planets... and humans, is very important" - Markus Wittkowski.
Original source ESO Press Release
Note: A maser is the microwave equivalent to a laser, which emits visible light. A maser emits powerful microwave radiation instead and its study requires radio telescopes. An astrophysical maser is a naturally occurring source of stimulated emission that may arise in molecular clouds, comets, planetary atmospheres, stellar atmospheres, or from various conditions in interstellar space.