NASA’s Webb Telescope captures a dying star
The Webb Space Telescope captured the rare and fleeting phase of a star on the verge of dying
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — The Webb Space Telescope has captured the rare and fleeting phase of a star on the verge of dying.
NASA released the photo Tuesday at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.
The observation was among the first made by Webb after its launch in late 2021. His infrared eyes observed all the gas and dust blasted out into space by a huge hot star 15,000 light-years away. A light year is approximately 5.8 trillion miles.
Shimmering purple like a cherry blossom, the scrap material once made up the outer layer of the star. The Hubble Space Telescope took a picture of the same transitioning star a few decades ago, but it looked more like a ball of fire without the delicate details.
Such a transformation only occurs with certain stars and is normally the last step before they explode into a supernova, scientists say.
“We’ve never seen it like this before. It’s really exciting,” said Macarena Garcia Marin, a European Space Agency scientist who is part of the project.
This star in the constellation Sagittarius, officially known as WR 124, is 30 times more massive than our sun and has already lost enough material to represent 10 suns, according to NASA.
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