The Hubble space telescope has captured an incredible image of a blue bubble around a distant star.
The image shows a Wolf–Rayet star known as WR 31a, which is located about 30,000 light-years away in the constellation of Carina (The Keel), according to the European Space Agency, in a statement on NASA’s website.
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“The distinctive blue bubble appearing to encircle WR 31a is a Wolf–Rayet nebula — an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other gases,” the ESA explained. “Created when speedy stellar winds interact with the outer layers of hydrogen ejected by Wolf–Rayet stars, these nebulae are frequently ring-shaped or spherical.”
The ESA added that the bubble, which is estimated to have formed around 20,000 years ago, is expanding at a rate of around 136,700 miles per hour.
The agency also notes that the lifecycle of a Wolf–Rayet star is only a few hundred thousand years, or “the blink of an eye” in cosmic terms.
The Hubble space telescope, which was launched by NASA in 1990, celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.
In 2015 astronomers used three telescopes, including the Hubble to spot a baby blue galaxy that is farther away in space than any other galaxy ever seen. The galaxy, named EGS-zs8-1, is 13.1 billion light-years away. The telescope also captured an incredible image of a barred spiral galaxy.