Tuesday, July 27, 2021

This is Garcux

Gacrux is a red star of apparent magnitude +1.63. It is the third brightest star in the Southern Cross constellation and the twenty-sixth brightest in the sky. Located just 88 light-years away from the Solar System, Gacrux is the closest M-class giant star to Earth.

Gacrux was once a star similar to the Sun: its mass is in fact just 30% greater than that of the Sun. However, Gacrux is much older: it has already abandoned the main sequence and has begun to expand, becoming a giant with a diameter 120 times that of the Sun.

The increase in size also led to a decrease in its surface temperature, which dropped to 3700 K, compared to 5700 K in the solar photosphere. While the Sun has a yellow color, Gacrux appears an orange red color.

Gacrux ran out of hydrogen in its core and started burning helium. The star in a short time (astronomically speaking) will eject its surface layers into space forming a planetary nebula, while its core will cool down to become a white dwarf.

Credit: Nova Dawn Astrophotography.

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