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Surprising Science

Wolf-Rayet Star 124

The Wolf-Rayet star WR 124 and the nebula M1-67 which surrounds it both owe their origin to the same originally massive star that blew off its outer layers. The central star is now far hotter than what came before, as Wolf-Rayet stars typically have temperatures between 100,000 and 200,000 K, with some stars cresting even higher.
(Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (

Think a star explosion is always a pyrotechnic show far superior than all the 4th of July fireworks put together? Some stars actually explode in slow motion. NASA captured one such bizarre display as a massive, hot, and tumultuous Wolf-Rayet star slowly disintegrates.

NASA has more:

Glowing gas globs each typically over 30 times more massive than the Earth are being expelled by violent stellar winds. Wolf-Rayet star WR 124, visible near the above image center spanning six light years across, is thus creating the surrounding nebula known as M1-67. Details of why this star has been slowly blowing itself apart over the past 20,000 years remains a topic of research. WR 124 lies 15,000 light-years away towards the constellation of Sagitta. The fate of any given Wolf-Rayet star likely depends on how massive it is, but many are thought to end their lives with spectacular explosions such as supernovas or gamma-ray bursts.

Image credit: NASA


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