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NASA's Jame Webb telescope spots fingerprint-like dust rings in space

NASAs Jame Webb telescope spots fingerprint-like dust rings in space

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has captured the sight of 17 dust rings in space that have a fingerprint-like pattern. The concentric dust rings are erupting from a pair of stars.

The space agency found that two stars jointly known as Wolf-Rayet 140 are nearing each other. This caused their stellar winds to interact, compress the gas, and create dust rings. The orbits of the stars bring them close every eight years, and the dust loops act as timekeepers. They are similar to tree rings that mark the passage of time.

The phenomenon is located over 5,000 light years from Earth.

NASA has used the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) on Webb to examine the rings' composition. They are mostly made up of debris expelled by the stars. Wolf-Rayet stars are losing mass but are still releasing complicated elements like carbon which are usually located deep inside.

"Not only is this a spectacular image, but this rare phenomenon reveals new evidence about cosmic dust and how it can survive in harsh space environments. These kinds of discoveries are only now opening up to us through the power of Webb and MIRI," said Dr. Olivia Jones, Webb Fellow at the UK ATC in Edinburgh.

Wolf-Rayet stars are at least 25 times more massive than the Sun and are burning much hotter than their own younger years. Experts think the binary star system has already lost over half of its mass via this mechanism.

"We're looking at over a century of dust production from this system. The image also illustrates just how sensitive JWST is. Before, we were only able to see two dust rings, using ground-based telescopes. Now we see at least 17 of them," said Ryan Lau, an astronomer at the National Science Foundation's NOIRLab.

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TAGS:NASA JWST James Webb dustrings fingerpint rings 
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