James Webb captures the dust plume of two star interactions

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured rings of dust from the interaction of two stars. The observations are described in Nature and Nature Astronomy.

The objects are located five thousand light-years from Earth in the constellation of Swan. The star system, named WR140, includes the Wolf Raye star and a blue supergiant O-type star, one of the most massive types of luminaries, which orbit each other on an eight-year cycle.

Studies of the system have been conducted over the past few decades using the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Now scientists have pointed James Webb’s instruments toward WR140 to study the intense starlight that can move matter through space.

Every eight years, as stars approach each other, huge clouds of dust are emitted into space that are thousands of times the size of the distance from Earth to the Sun.

All stars emit streams of gas, but the star WR140 this is more like a stellar hurricane, rather than wind. In the later stages of the life cycle, these luminaries have shed their hydrogen layer. Hydrogen is not a constituent of dust, but other elements inside the star, such as carbon, can form a dust plume. This effect is due to the condensation of carbon in the wind collision zones from the two stars, which can only be observed in the infrared light of telescopes.

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Marie Weber

Marie Weber

Internet journalist with 10 years of experience. All her life she has loved to look at the night sky and has been captivated by the beauty of the stars. She has written articles for various online publications and is now happy to be part of the space publishing team.

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