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Astonishing picture shows 'bubbling' red giant that's about to collapse

The surface of the sun

By peering into the constellation of Grus, around 530 light-years from Earth, the European Space Agency (ESA) has snapped a so-called red giant in the last moments of its lifecycle.
This was the first time the ESA had used its Very Large Telescope, located in the desert of northern Chile.
It's exactly what will happen to our own star in around five billion years.
The star, known as pi1 Grus, is around the same mass as our own sun but 350 times larger and much, much brighter.
According to astronomers, it's "bubbling" with convective cells (which occur when there's a difference of density within a single body of liquid or gas) that cover the surface.
Each of these cells are about 75 million miles across - roughly a quarter of the star's diameter.
Initially, the star would have shrunk down and heated up to over 100 million degrees as it burned off its last remaining stores of hydrogen energy.
"These extreme temperatures fueled the star’s next phase as it began to fuse helium into heavier atoms such as carbon and oxygen," explained EarthSky.org.
The surface of the Sun captured by the SDO
"This intensely hot core then expelled the star’s outer layers, causing it to balloon to hundreds of times larger than its original size."
This is the first time astronomers have ever seen this bubbling effect take place on a red giant - or have been able to capture it in such detail.

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