When we think of stars going supernova we might imagine one of the most incredible explosions in the universe. Nothing surprising here. However, when we think about how fast the explosion happens, well there’s a whole different story altogether.
Enter Wolf-Rayet Star 124.
Before we jump into this particular star let’s take a sidebar and talk about this specific stellar death scenario. Grab your notebook we’re going on the magic schoolbus! okay… I lied… we don’t have the budget… but just stick with me for a minute!
What is a Wolf-Rayet Star?
A Wolf-Rayet Star has a few requirements. It is a star at least 20 times massive than our Sun, that begins to die (finishes combining hydrogen into helium) and gives its final farewell. They actually coined the term “live fast and die hard.” So all you adrenaline junkies have nothing on this star.
The fact that they are just so incredibly massive means they burn or fuse through their elements much quicker just to maintain equilibrium.
If you want to jump a little further into the details of Wolf-Rayet stars then check out this fantastic Universe Today explanation here.
What’s incredibly awesome about Wolf-Rayet Star 124
Wolf-Rayet Star 124 is located 15,000 light years from Earth in the constellation Sagitta. These beautiful and deadly glowing gas globs are 30 times larger than Earth. The star and surrounding gas itself is six light years across (that’s 60 trillion kilometers!). However, one of my favorite thought-provoking facts is that this star has been slowly exploding for 20,000 years. Take a moment and picture how immense that explosion is, then think about how this explosion is happening slowly and is still going on. That is just mind boggling to see anything still living in their final breath for that long. It’s a huge topic of discussion with researchers and it’s another humbling awakening of how we have much to learn about stellar deaths.
Further Reading / Sources used:
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