The James Webb Space Telescope and the new image of the star Wolf-Rayet WR 140

We recently reported on the observation of the Orion 294-606 protoplanetary system by the James Webb Space Telescope which follows the release of the images of the galaxies VV 191 and other parts of the Universe, respectively coupled to Hubble and Chandra. In the last few hours a new photo of the Wolf-Rayet WR 140 Stern which was already the subject of a message from us at the beginning of September.

jwst wr140

Click on the image to enlarge it to maximum resolution

New processed images taken by JWST show even better the special structure of WR140 and served as the basis for a new study of this fascinating celestial object, published in Nature. In particular, scientists (but also simple enthusiasts) notice such structures that resemble them “fingerprints” which have disappeared into space and which have been known for some time (but which, thanks to the resolution of the new telescope, can at best be observed). Here’s what we know.

The James Webb Space Telescope and image of the star WR 140

As pointed out by the agencies, observe WR140 You can see at least 17 concentric rings of dust (but earlier there could have been more) formed by a pair of stars just over 5,000 light-years from our planet. The motivation for the formation of these particular shapes is related to the interaction between the two stars and to the gases and dust dispersed in space. We must also remember that even if they appear as rings in the images, in reality they can be considered as such “Peel” three dimensional.

wr 140 jwst

Thanks to James Webb Space Telescope You can clearly see in the lower right half the rings that form as the slightly elongated orbits of the two stars get closer (about one astronomical unit) and this has been calculated to happen about every eight years so you can look around 136 years of evolution. This can then help researchers mark the passage of time of this dual system.

In particular, the instrument was used for the observation MIRI (mid-infrared instrument) that allows you to easily see the dust generated by the Wolf-Rayet Star of this type so cold and therefore emits in the mid-infrared. The filters used for the observation were those at 7.7m (blue), 15m (green) and 21m (red) labeled F770W, F1500W, F2100W. This category of stars has an initial mass greater than that of the Sun (at least 25 times), and as it nears the end stages of life it can become a black hole or supernova.

wr 140 jwst

One of the features that the Wolf-Rayet Stars (like WR 140) produce strong stellar winds that scatter gas enough to thus halve its mass. Dusts are generated by released heavy elements (eg carbon) which can combine with lighter ones such as hydrogen. Using the Medium-Resolution Spectroscopy mode and the 6.4m and 7.7m filters, it was possible to know that within the rings we find elements such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other carbon-rich compounds.

Why are they Wolf-Rayet Stars? The spread of dust and gas in space can lead to the formation of planets and stars. Although there is no solid certainty yet, the Sun could also have formed thanks to a WR star. To better understand the magnitude of the phenomenon, it is necessary to consider that the most distant ring has traveled 70,000 AU since its formation and is moving at about 9.6 million km/h.

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