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Solar System Formation near a Massive Star

28 Dec 2017, 15:51 UTC
Solar System Formation near a Massive Star
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An unusual type of star may be showing us something about the origin of our own Solar System. Wolf-Rayet stars display unusual spectra, prominent in which are heavy elements as well as broad emission lines of ionized helium, nitrogen and carbon. These are massive objects 40 to 50 times the size of our Sun, with surface temperatures ranging up to 200,000 K. Have a look at one of these, showing another Wolf-Rayet trait, the strong stellar winds ejecting material into nearby space. A bubble with a dense shell forms around such stars, trapping gas and dust that could form into new stars.

Image: Here we see the spectacular cosmic pairing of the star Hen 2-427 — more commonly known as WR 124 — and the nebula M1-67 which surrounds it. Both objects, captured here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, are found in the constellation of Sagittarius and lie 15,000 light-years away. The star Hen 2-427 shines brightly at the very centre of this explosive image and around the hot clumps of gas that are ejected into space at over 150,000 kilometres per hour. Hen 2-427 is a Wolf–Rayet star, named after the astronomers Charles Wolf and Georges Rayet. ...

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