Sparkling at the center of this beautiful image is a star located about 30,000 light-years away. The distinctive blue…
Located about 30,000 light-years away in the constellation of Carina (The Keel), the sparkle in the center of the picture snapped by the National Aeronautics Space Administration and European Space Administration Hubble Space Telescope, is a Wolf-Rayet star known as WR 31a.
The blue bubble that seems to envelope WR 31a is a Wolf-Rayet nebula, an interstellar cloud of dust with hydrogen, helium and other gases.
The nebula was created when speedy stellar winds interact with the outer layers of hydrogen ejected by the stars, which always form nebulae in ring or spherical shape.
NASA estimates the bubble have been formed around 20,000 years ago, is expanding at a rate of around 220,000 kilometers or 136,700 miles per hour.
Despite beginning life with a mass at least 20 times that of the sun, Wolf–Rayet stars typically lose half their mass in less than 100,000 years. And WR 31a is no exception to this case. It will, therefore, eventually end its life as a spectacular supernova, and the stellar material expelled from its explosion will later nourish a new generation of stars and planets.
H/T: European Space Agency. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt
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