Super-Massive Star Observed in Carina Nebula

Eso1031a (1) A spectacular new image from ESO's Wide Field Imager at the La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the brilliant and unusual star WR 22 -a very hot and bright star that is shedding its atmosphere into space at a rate many millions of times faster than the Sun. It lies in the outer part of the dramatic Carina Nebula from which it formed. Some of these stellar beacons have such intense radiation passing through their thick atmospheres late in their lives that they shed material into space many millions of times more quickly than relatively sedate stars such as the Sun. These rare, very hot and massive objects are known as Wolf-Rayet stars, after the two French astronomers who first identified them in the mid-nineteenth century, and one of the most massive ones yet measured is known as WR 22. It appears at the centre of this picture, which was created from images taken through red, green and blue filters with the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. WR 22 is a member of a double star system and has been measured to have a mass at least 70 times that of the Sun.


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