Hubble captures an ethereal blue bubbleAmy Walsh (Author) Published Date : Feb 29, 2016 19:13 ET
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured an image of the spectacular blue bubble in space - a star called WR 31a enveloped in a bed of blue wonder. The image is probably the most detailed photo of the star ever captured.
Sparkling at the center of this beautiful NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a Wolf Rayet star known as WR 31a, located about 30,000 light-years away in the constellation of Carina (The Keel).
The distinctive blue bubble appearing to encircle WR 31a is a Wolf Rayet nebula, an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other gases. Created when speedy stellar winds interact with the outer layers of hydrogen ejected by Wolf, Rayet stars, these nebulae are frequently ring-shaped or spherical. The bubble, estimated to have formed around 20,000 years ago, is expanding at a rate of around 220,000 kilometers (136,700 miles) per hour!
Despite its delicate beauty, the blue bubble is not meant to stay for so long. Such star only live for about 100,000 years, which is very short in terms of cosmic standards.
And WR 31a is no exception to this case, says NASA in a statement.
Unfortunately, the lifecycle of a Wolf Rayet star is only a few hundred thousand years, the blink of an eye in cosmic terms. 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.
Hubble captures an ethereal blue bubble