News Release Archive:

News Release 804 of 1051

August 6, 1997 12:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1997-26

Hubble Separates Stars in the Mira Binary System

August 6, 1997: Although the giant star Mira has been known for about 400 years, astronomers have had to wait for the Hubble telescope to provide the first ultraviolet-light images of the extended atmosphere of the cool red giant star and its nearby, hot companion.

By giving astronomers a clear view of the individual members of this system, Hubble has provided valuable insights into other types of double-star systems where the stars are so close they interact with one another. In ultraviolet light, Hubble resolves a small, hook-like appendage extending from Mira and pointing towards the smaller companion. This material could be gravitationally drawn towards Mira's mate.

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