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Wowza nebula gorgeousness:

Click the image to see a larger photo and the ESA article.

This Hubble photo (touched up by the European Space Agency) shows a pair of colossal stars, WR 25 and Tr16-244, located within the open cluster Trumpler 16. The ESA describes the cluster as embedded within the Carina Nebula, an immense cauldron of gas and dust that lies approximately 7500 light-years from Earth. The Carina Nebula contains several ultra-hot stars, including these two star systems and the famous blue star Eta Carinae, which has the highest luminosity yet confirmed.

WR 25 (the brightest star in the image, near the center) is a Wolf-Rayet star and could weigh more than 50 times the mass of our Sun. It is losing mass rapidly through powerful stellar winds that have expelled the majority of its outermost hydrogen-rich layers, while its more mundane binary companion is probably about half as massive and orbits it once every 208 days.

Massive stars are usually formed in compact clusters. Often, the individual stars are physically so close to each other that it is very difficult to resolve them in telescopes as separate objects. These Hubble observations have revealed that the Tr16-244 system is actually a triple star.

Cool beans, folks! The stuff you stumble upon in the interwebs.




( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 24th, 2012 03:59 am (UTC)
What a glorious image to start off the (Chinese) New Year! Better than fire balloons! Gong hey fat choy!
Jan. 27th, 2012 05:31 pm (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )