Share

News Release Archive:

News Release 669 of 964

November 5, 1998 09:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1998-38

Great Balls of Fire! Hubble Sees Bright Knots Ejected From Brilliant Star

Back

Image: Nebula M1-67 around Star WR124

Nebula M1-67 around Star WR124

Screen-use options: These files are created for viewing on your monitor

Print-use download options: These files are designed to fit on letter-size paper

Highest-quality download options: The best resolution available


ABOUT THIS IMAGE:

Resembling an aerial fireworks explosion, this dramatic NASA Hubble Space Telescope picture of the energetic star WR124 reveals it is surrounded by hot clumps of gas being ejected into space at speeds of over 100,000 miles per hour.

Also remarkable are vast arcs of glowing gas around the star, which are resolved into filamentary, chaotic substructures, yet with no overall global shell structure. Though the existence of clumps in the winds of hot stars has been deduced through spectroscopic observations of their inner winds, Hubble resolves them directly in the nebula M1-67 around WR124 as 100 billion-mile wide glowing gas blobs. Each blob is about 30 times the mass of the Earth.

The massive, hot central star is known as a Wolf-Rayet star. This extremely rare and short-lived class of super-hot star (in this case 50,000 degrees Kelvin) is going through a violent, transitional phase characterized by the fierce ejection of mass. The blobs may result from the furious stellar wind that does not flow smoothly into space but has instabilities which make it clumpy.

The surrounding nebula is estimated to be no older than 10,000 years, which means that it is so young it has not yet slammed into the gasses comprising the surrounding interstellar medium.

As the blobs cool they will eventually dissipate into space and so don't pose any threat to neighboring stars.

The star is 15,000 light-years away, located in the constellation Sagittarius. The picture was taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in March 1997. The image is false-colored to reveal details in the nebula's structure.

Object Names: M1-67, WR124

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: Yves Grosdidier (University of Montreal and Observatoire de Strasbourg), Anthony Moffat (Universitie de Montreal), Gilles Joncas (Universite Laval), Agnes Acker (Observatoire de Strasbourg), and NASA

NEWS RELEASE IMAGES

All images from this news release:

To access available information and downloadable versions of images in this news release, click on any of the images below: