NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has uncovered a fascinating phenomenon after taking a detailed image of a star located about 5,600 light-years away. The image obtained from the telescope shows the star which the researchers suspect is a concentric circle of outgoing light. The star in the image is a binary pair of rare stars in the constellation of Cygnus. The interaction between them results in periodic outbursts of dust that are spreading over time into the spheres in the space around the stars.
The dust balls in the infrared allow NASA’s JWST Sensitive Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) to capture it in detail, according to a report good By Science Alert. The rare pair of stars, known as a colliding wind binary, consists of an extremely rare Wolf–Rayet star called WR 140 and a hot and massive O-type star companion, which It is also a rare item. Wolf–Rayet stars are described as hot, old and bright at the end of their main-sequence lifetimes. They are losing mass at a high rate and are rich in nitrogen and carbon, but lack hydrogen.
Overview Title: Establishing Extreme Dynamic Range with JWST: Decoding Smoke Signals in G…
Overview Start Time: 2022-07-27 16:21:52.929
Exposure Time: 00h:23m:51.924s
objd: 168550290#JWSTPhotos pic.twitter.com/mQkQxCbODo
— JWST Photo Bot (@JWSTPhotoBot) 29 July 2022
Meanwhile, O-type stars are considered to be among the most massive stars that are bright and hot. However, their lifespan is quite brief due to their enormous size. The pair of stars in WR 140 has strong stellar winds that are blowing through space at about 3,000 kilometers per second. Due to this, both stars are losing mass at a high rate.
The dust in the system is in the form of carbon that absorbs ultraviolet light from stars. This heats up the dust which re-emits the thermal radiation captured in Webb’s image. Stellar winds blow air outward which expands the partial dust shell. The shells expand and cool when blown and lose heat and density in the process.
The orbit of the binary star has a period of 7.94 years and due to this the collision of air and dust is produced every 7.94 years. This implies that the rings of the nebula around the binary can be counted to determine the age of the outermost visible dust shell. 20 such rings are visible in the picture i.e. 160 years old dust balls are visible.