FU Orionis (Artist's Concept)
This artist's concept illustrates how the brightness of outbursting star FU Orionis has been slowly fading since its initial flare-up observed in 1936. The star is pictured with the disk of material that surrounds it. Researchers found that it has dimmed by about 13 percent at short infrared wavelengths from 2004 (left) to 2016 (right).
The 2004 data were collected with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and the 2016 data were collected with the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
FU Orionis is a few hundred thousand years old. It is possible that when our sun was younger, it also went through a period of intense brightening followed by dimming.
These results were presented at the American Astronomical Association meeting in June 2016 in San Diego, California.
Illustration Credit: NASA and JPL-Caltech