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Mason County News
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AROUND THE SQUARE
Renee Walker
Wednesday, July 15, 2009 • Posted July 15, 2009

Mother Nature.

What a gal.

What a wonderful world she gave us to live in.

Just look up at the sky some dark night.

Who would’ve guessed what Mira is up to…up there.

Mira being a star.

Not a movie star.

Nope.

There’s no comparison to movie stars when it comes to the red giant Mira.

She was known to 17th Century astronomers as “a wonderful star whose

brightness could change dramatically in the course of about 11 months.”

Ah, the fickle world of fame.

Modern astronomers now recognize an entire class of Mira-type stars.

They call ‘em “cool, pulsating, red giant stars, 700 or so times the diameter of the Sun.”

Wow.

Move over, Hollywood.

And if you think it’s all twinkly up there in the sky, forget it.

They may be scientifically cool and pulsating, but those stars lead hot lives just like the mortal ones down here on earth.

For instance:

Red giant Mira runs around with a “companion star”— otherwise knows as “a small white dwarf.”

Can you believe it?

How shocking.

Right in full view of our upward gaze.

Anyway, this is known among astronomers as “a double star system.”

Kinda like Tracy & Hepburn.

Bogart & Bacall.

Or Jolie and Pitt.

The little dwarf surrounds himself with a “disk of material drawn from the pulsating giant.”

Now wait a minute.

Isn’t that stealing the spotlight?

Apparently her energy—wrapped around his energy—creates a hot accretion disk that is expected to produce x-rays.

Oh really.

I’m surprised it doesn’t produce fireworks and psychedelic light shows all night.

Especially when you’re whirling around in space only 420 light years away.

I mean, that’s just a stone’s throw in astronomical terms.

But the excitement doesn’t stop there.

After these two orbit around each other for awhile, things heat up even more.

And then our giant cool star flares up.

She gets her fill of the dwarf.

She wants no more of those x-ray energies he emits from his disk.

So she spins and turns till she separates herself and gets clear of them.

And him.

Thus proving, on earth, as it is in heaven.

Everybody needs their own space.

Even in space.

That’s Mason.

Renee Walker is a poet, writer, and real estate broker on the Square.

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