A beautiful blue bubble of cosmic gases as seen by Hubble
An image recently captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and released by NASA in conjunction with the European Space Agency shows a star encircled by a massive blue collection of the building blocks of space itself.
The star is known as WR 31a. It resides roughly 30,000 light years away from Earth as part of the Carina constellation.
According to NASA, "The distinctive blue bubble appearing to encircle WR 31a is a Wolf–Rayet nebula — an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other gases. 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."
Yet for all its brilliance, WR 31a is not in this universe for too long. Like all other Wolf-Rayet stars, it has a lifespan of just a few hundred thousand years—a small blip on the cosmic timeline.
The star's final days will eventually be spent going supernova as it releases stellar material that will populate the universe long after its death.
See more of the best images in space from the last month:
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