Webb Spots Rare Star Destined To Die In Dramatic Supernova Explosion

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has captured an image of a gigantic star 30 times the mass of our Sun that has entered the final stage of its life prior to exploding in a spectacular supernova.

15,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagitta there dwells a true cosmic leviathan – the Wolf-Rayet star WR 124. Wolf-Rayet’s are a rare, short-lived class of stellar bodies that rank amongst the brightest and most massive stars known to inhabit the observable universe.

Before it does explode, however, the star will eject a colossal amount of material. This shedding is responsible for creating the spectacular cosmic cloud seen in the new composite image surrounding the bright central star.

The Wolf-Rayet star WR 124 shines at the heart of its own cosmic cloud (Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team)

The Wolf-Rayet star WR 124 shines at the heart of its own cosmic cloud (Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team)

Each of the brighter stars in the newly released image is crowned by a distinctive six-point diffraction pattern, created by the positioning of the telescope’s golden primary mirror segments and supporting struts.

Astronomers estimate that WR 124 has already cast off the equivalent of 10 Suns worth of mass from its outer layers. Any material that survives the coming supernova will go on to form the basis for the next generation of solar systems along with the heavier elements that are known to form in the hearts of colossal stars.

Past observations have revealed that there is more dust permeating the universe than is explainable under current creation theories. It is hoped that the recent transitional image of WR 124 captured by Webb will help scientists better understand this imbalance, and how the universe became seeded with the materials needed to give rise to planets like Mars, and Earth.

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Anthony is a freelance contributor covering science and video gaming news for IGN. He has over eight years experience of covering breaking developments in multiple scientific fields and absolutely no time for your shenanigans. Follow him on Twitter @BeardConGamer

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