Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Just like in the movies

'Astronomy is like an awesome action movie, because everything inevitably explodes.'
Damn skippy! While this is not exactly an accurate statement, it brings to mind some of the more fantastic processes that happen way out there and, indeed, those which can provide us with the most spectacular views.

In this vein I'd like to apologise for having just quoted myself for my own nefarious purposes and introduce you to my new friend, Wolf Rayet.

Nebula m1-67 image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope

At the centre of the picture is Wolf Rayet star WR124 and it is a really, really big explosion just waiting to happen.

A Wolf Rayet star represents one of the final evolutionary phases in massive star's life during which they undergo high mass loss. These stars are sat in turbulent shells of ejecta being blown outwards by stellar winds at around 200 km/s. This is what can be seen dominating the view in the picture above. Pretty soon (In terms of astronomical time) the core of this star will run out of fusible material and end its life in a titanic type Ib Supernova.

Boom!

This is why I love astronomy.

2 comments:

Ben D said...

Amazing! Everybody loves an explosion.

James_d said...

Best bang since the big one...