Star WR 31a was captured by Hubble in one mesmerizing image made public by NASA during this week. Perhaps the most captivating detail in the Hubble Space Telescope snapshot is the blue bubble seemingly surrounding the star WR 31a.
Star WR 31a is located 30,000 light years from us. It is also part of a category of stars which are conventionally known to be quite large. Their mass reaches 20 times the mass of the Sun. As for the blue bubble surrounding the WR 31a, it is a Wolf-Rayet nebula according to the U.S. space agency.
The Wolf-Rayet nebula comprises hydrogen, dust and helium in large proportions in addition to other gases. Wolf-Rayet nebulas form as speedy space winds are racing to interact with the layers of hydrogen which are ejected by the surrounding stars.
Star WR 31a was captured by Hubble in one mesmerizing image. The blue bubble circling the large mass star formed approximately 20,000 years ago. The U.S. space agency declared that the Wolf-Rayet nebula is expanding by 220,000 kilometers per hour. Such objects are known to be either spherical or shaped as a ring.
Star WR 31a is located in the Carina constellation. The Hubble Space Telescope image may have captured the blue bubble-like nebula and its star just in time. Both Wolf-Rayet nebulas and Wolf-Rayet stars like WR 31a have short lifespans. The typical lifespan of Wolf-Rayet nebulas is of a few hundred thousand years. Soon enough, star WR 31a will become a supernova.
Compared to our Sun, these stars’ lifespans are just a glimpse in cosmological time. The Sun is 4.5 billion years old. Moreover, it’s expected to live another 5 billion years. Also, compared to our Sun, Wolf-Rayet stars shed approximately half of their mass in under 100,000 years.
Photo Credits: NASA