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Brilliant star in a
colourful neighbourhood

by Lizzie Campbell
Posted: 29 July 2010

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Hailing from La Silla Observatory, ESO has released a new image of the noteworthy star WR22, nestled in the picturesque setting of the outer reaches of the Carina Nebula.

This new image from ESO centres on Wolf-Rayet star WR22. The field-of-view is 0.55 x 0.55 degrees. Image: ESO.

The star is at least 70 times more massive than our own Sun and orbits with another star around the centre of mass between them. WR22 is one of the most massive Wolf-Rayet stars yet measured, and is so bright it can be tenuously seen unaided from Earth, despite residing over 5,000 light years away. These incredibly hot and luminous stellar beacons jettison their atmosphere much faster than our Sun does, due to fierce radiation invading their thick atmospheres.

This panoramic view combines a new image of the field around WR22 in the Carina Nebula (right) with an earlier view into the heart of the nebula (left). Image: ESO.

WR22 is surrounded by the exquisitely hued southern constellation of Carina. The nebula – a huge cloud of interstellar dust, hydrogen gas, helium gas and other ionized gases – serves as a home for newly forming stars and several star clusters. The colours and shades originate from interactions between intense ultraviolet radiation from WR22 and its more massive neighbours, and the expansive gas clouds that formed them.

The image was taken through red, green and blue filters with the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2 metre telescope.

The Planets
From tiny Mercury to distant Neptune and Pluto, The Planets profiles each of the Solar System's members in depth, featuring the latest imagery from space missions. The tallest mountains, the deepest canyons, the strongest winds, raging atmospheric storms, terrain studded with craters and vast worlds of ice are just some of the sights you'll see on this 100-page tour of the planets.

Hubble Reborn
Hubble Reborn takes the reader on a journey through the Universe with spectacular full-colour pictures of galaxies, nebulae, planets and stars as seen through Hubble's eyes, along the way telling the dramatic story of the space telescope, including interviews with key scientists and astronauts.

3D Universe
Witness the most awesome sights of the Universe as they were meant to be seen in this 100-page extravaganza of planets, galaxies and star-scapes, all in 3D!


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