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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

ByMARCIA DUNN AP Aerospace Writer

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.

___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science and Education Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.