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RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Core of a red giant star, animation. There are several types of red giant stars. The one shown here is an asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star. The cutaway animation zooms in on the core of the star to show the nuclear fusion processes taking place. An envelope of hydrogen (yellow) surrounds a layer of burning hydrogen (red, hydrogen that is fusing to form helium). Next is a layer of burning helium (orange, helium that is fusing to form carbon). At the core is a sphere of inert carbon and oxygen. This is a late stage in stellar evolution, attained by some stars in the range 0.6 to 10 solar masses. The Sun will pass through this stage in some five billion years.
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