Bubble of gas emits X-rays as it is blown away by a dying star!

  • Copyright ESA/XMM-Newton; J. Toalá; D.Goldman


Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars are massive, energetic stars at the end of their lives. They generate strong winds that sweep their surrounding material and create strong shockwaves as they collide with the interstellar medium (ISM). This process heats up the ISM to high enough temperatures to produce X-rays. Once the star suns out of material it explodes as a supernova! 

This phenomenon is very rare and had been observed only three times so far! Now scientists used the EPIC (European Photon Image Camera) on ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray space telescope to observe a bubble of gas named NGC 3199, blown by a star known as WR18. 

The hot, X-ray emitting gas is shown in blue in the image, while a bright arc, a cloud of dust and ionised gases, stretches out towards the western end of the X-ray bubble (North is to the upper left). The yellow-green part is oxygen emission and the red is sulphur emission.  

Source: XMM-Newton