Red supergiant stars “dance” because they have too much gas

An artist’s impression of exoplanets orbiting a red supergiant. The bright light in the distance comes from a distant star of a similar size. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

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Scientists may finally be able to explain why some massive stars seem to dance in the sky even though they’re not actually moving: The stars have unusual bubbles that cause their surfaces to wobble, thereby changing the amount of light they emit, according to new study.

Dancing stars are known as red supergiants, huge stellar objects that have bloated and cooled as they neared the end of their lives. These stars are about eight times more massive than sun and may have a diameter up to 700 times that of the sun, which would be equivalent to the sun’s surface reaching beyond the orbit of Mars (absorption mercury, Venus, The Earth and the Red Planet in the process). Despite their colossal stature, however, these slowly dying giants can be extremely difficult to pinpoint.

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