The rebel star that broke the medieval sky

In 1617, David Fabricius lay on a church floor at the age of 53, murdered by a man wielding a shovel, who Fabricius had just accused of stealing a goose. It was a sorry end for the person who was first to spot one of the most important objects in the history of astronomy – a flashing star called Mira.

Not only did Mira go on to shatter cherished notions of a constant universe – to the dismay of Catholic theologians – it has recently gained another distinction: it is the first and only star with a comet-like tail that we know of. And this eternal hellraiser refuses to go quietly. The latest news is that Mira has been spotted enveloped by a mysterious spiral structure.

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