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Spoiler Alert: Star War Ends With Big One Gulping Its Neighbor, Exploding

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Stars, they're just like us. They grow. They burn bright. They even get into fights. No, I am not talking about the ones walking the red carpet tonight. I'm talking actual stars - like in the heavens above us. This week, there was evidence of an incredible confrontation, a spectacular celestial cloud. Astronomers have released a colorful image of it. And it was, despite the name, dramatic. Here's how it went down. As the star died, it grew so large that its smaller partner began to spiral towards it. But instead of a direct collision, the big star swallowed the other. And then it burst. Layers of gas exploded, spreading debris across the universe.

Now, this stellar showdown could teach astronomers about how stars end and what that might mean for our own star, the sun. In the meantime, we can all admire the glorious reds, blues and greens from the ALMA telescope in Chile - colors magnificent enough for an Oscar-worthy gown here on Earth.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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