|This is the Web Edition of "A Trip Into Space", a Coimbra-based electronic book on space science. Both the texts and the photos are by courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration.|
|A Trip Into Space Stars And Other Fascinating Objects Wolf-Rayet - HST Sees Bright Knots Ejected From A Brillant Star|
Resembling an aerial fireworks explosion, this dramatic NASA Hubble Space Telescope picture of the energetic star WR124 reveals it is surrounded by hot clumps of gas being ejected into space at speeds of over 100,000 miles per hour.
The massive, hot central star is known as a Wolf-Rayet star. This extremely rare and short-lived class of super-hot star (in this case 50,000 degrees Kelvin) is going through a violent, transitional phase characterized by the fierce ejection of mass. The blobs may result from the furious stellar wind that does not flow smoothly into space but has instabilities which make it clumpy.
The surrounding nebula is estimated to be no older than 10,000 years, which means that it is so young it has not yet slammed into the gasses comprising the surrounding interstellar medium.
As the blobs cool they will eventually dissipate into space and so don't pose any threat to neighboring stars.
The star is 15,000 light-years away, located in the constellation Sagittarius. The picture was taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in March 1997. The image is false-colored to reveal details in the nebula's structure.
Credit: Yves Grosdidier (University of Montreal and Observatoire de Strasbourg), Anthony Moffat (Universitie de Montreal), Gilles Joncas (Universite Laval), Agnes Acker (Observatoire de Strasbourg), and NAS
Last Update: 2005-Nov-29