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News Release Archive:

News Release 691 of 938

August 6, 1997 12:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1997-26

Hubble Separates Stars in the Mira Binary System

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Image: The Mira Binary System: A Red Giant Star and Its Hot Companion

The Mira Binary System: A Red Giant Star and Its Hot CompanionSTScI-PRC1997-26

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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:

[TOP] This is a NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the cool red giant star Mira A (right), officially called Omicron Ceti in the constellation Cetus, and its nearby hot companion (left) taken on December 11, 1995 in visible light using the European Space Agency's Faint Object Camera (FOC). The stars in this false-color picture are separated by an angular size of only 0.6 arcseconds (equal to 70 times the distance between Earth and the Sun), but clearly resolved by the FOC. Image reconstruction techniques have been used to further enhance the details in the Mira images.

In the lower two panels the reconstructed images of Mira are magnified and the companion is out of the field of view to the left from Mira.

[LOWER LEFT] Hubble's visible-light image of the disk of Mira reveals it has an odd, asymmetrical shape resembling a football. This may be tied to dramatic changes occurring during its expansion-contraction cycles, or to the presence of unresolved spots on its surface. Hubble measurements show the red giant star is 700 times larger than our Sun.

[LOWER RIGHT] In UV light, Hubble resolves a small hook-like appendage extending from Mira, in the direction of the companion that could be material from Mira being gravitationally drawn toward the smaller star. Alternately, it could be that material in Mira's upper atmosphere is being heated due to the companion's presence.

In this magnified image of Mira, displayed on a log scale to show better the extension toward the companion, the companion is out of the field of view - to the left of Mira.

Object Names: Mira A, Omicron Ceti

Image Type: Astronomical/Annotated

Credit: Margarita Karovska (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and NASA

NEWS RELEASE IMAGES

The above montage includes these images:

Red Giant Star Mira and Its Companion Image Type: Astronomical Red Giant Star Mira and Its Companion Red Giant Star Mira's Football Shape Image Type: Astronomical Red Giant Star Mira's Football Shape Red Giant Star Mira Image Type: Astronomical Red Giant Star Mira

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