Stars paint stunning nebulas with stellar winds thanks to cosmic companions

Each star system is a unique paintbrush in the cosmos, and astronomers are finally beginning to understand why.

In new research, a team of scientists focused on a dozen cool red giant stars, the evolutionary stage our sun will reach in a few billion years. Such stars are constantly producing a stellar wind, a constant stream of particles that flings the star’s mass out into space. Because scientists haven’t been able to study such winds in detail before, they’ve always assumed stellar winds are spherical, just like the stars they come from. But it turns out, companion stars and even planets change the shape of a star’s stellar wind — and the evidence is in the stunningly unique nebulas surrounding these stars.

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