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NASA Highlight: Stars and cosmic clouds are the astrophotos of the day

NASA Highlight: Stars and cosmic clouds are the astrophotos of the day

NASA’s spotlight today shows WR 134, a Wolf-Rayet star. Stars of this type are known to be massive and short-lived.

The photo highlighted by NASA this Friday (31st) brings a colorful and bright cosmic cloud visible towards the constellation of the Swan, the Swan. The nebula rich in gaseous and ionized hydrogen and oxygen present there surrounds the star WR 134.

The shot was taken by Xin Long and shows a region equivalent to twice the diameter of the Moon complete phase. The interstellar cloud complex is formed by bright arcs, made up of the structure expelled from the star WR 134.

Finding the star in the photo is quite simple. Just look for the brightest star, visible near the central part of the image.


Astronomers estimate that the star WR 134 is about six thousand light-years from Earth. In the photo it appears at the center of an area measuring more than 100 light-years in length.

Stars of this type are massive and usually expel their outer layers with the help of powerful stellar winds.

These winds, combined with supernova explosions, distribute heavy elements throughout the interstellar medium. Then, future generations of stars will incorporate these elements.

Wolf-Rayet stars

The WR 134 star is of the Wolf-Rayet type. They are known to be massive stars in the late stages of their cycles, losing mass at a greatly accelerated rate. They therefore have intense and short “lives” and, since they end their cycle quickly, they are considered rare objects.

Stars of this type usually have a temperature of 25,000 K: for comparison, consider that surface of the Sun it measures about 5,800 K. Furthermore, Wolf-Rayet stars can be at least a million times brighter than our star.

Astronomers estimate that there are about 220 Wolf-Rayet stars on the planet Milky Way, our galaxy. However, perhaps these stars exist in their thousands, but not all have been found because they may be hidden by dust clouds.

Source: APOD

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