That led me on a search to learn more about it, and found some great information posted by Jim Kaler, Professor emeritus of Astronomy at the Univeristy of Illinois [Link]. Here are some interesting tidbits from his article:
- R LEP is a "carbon star," accounting for its deep red color.
- Carbon stars are among the coolest known.
- Carbon stars are rare, and most far away. At a distance of about 1100 light years R Leporis is one of the closer.
- R LEP has a temperature of only 2245 to 2290 Kelvin and luminosity of between 5200 and 7000 Suns (almost all coming out in the infrared)
- R LEP has a whopping radius between 480 and 535 times that of the Sun, or between 2.2 and 2.5 Astronomical Units.
- Once the envelope is ejected, the hot core will light the surrounding wind in a "planetary nebula" and will then finally expire as a cooling, fairly massive white dwarf akin to Sirius B.
- Much of the carbon (and many other chemical elements) of the Universe came from such stars that died off long before the Sun was born 4.5 billion years ago, including that from which life is made.