Blowing cosmic bubbles

This entrancing image shows a few of the tenuous threads that comprise Sh2-308, a faint and wispy shell of gas located 5200 light-years away in the constellation of Canis Major (The Great Dog).

Sh2-308 is a large bubble-like structure wrapped around an extremely large, bright type of star known as a Wolf-Rayet Star — this particular star is called EZ Canis Majoris. These type of stars are among the brightest and most massive stars in the Universe, tens of times more massive than our own Sun, and they represent the extremes of stellar evolution. Thick winds continually poured off the progenitors of such stars, flooding their surroundings and draining the outer layers of the Wolf-Rayet stars. The fast wind of a Wolf-Rayet star therefore sweeps up the surrounding material to form bubbles of gas.

EZ Canis Majoris is responsible for creating the bubble of Sh2-308 — the star threw off its outer layers to create the strands visible here. The intense and ongoing radiation from the star pushes the bubble out further and further, blowing it bigger and bigger. Currently the edges of Sh2-308 are some 60 light-years apart!

Beautiful as these cosmic bubbles are, they are fleeting. The same stars that form them will also cause their death, eclipsing and subsuming them in violent supernova explosions.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA

About the Image

Id:potw1716a
Type:Observation
Release date:17 April 2017, 06:00
Size:4028 x 4113 px

About the Object

Name:EZ Canis Majoris, Sh2-308
Type:Milky Way : Star : Type : Wolf-Rayet
Distance:5000 light years
Constellation:Canis Major
Category:Nebulae

Image Formats

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6.4 MB
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246.4 KB

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Coordinates

Position (RA):6 53 12.07
Position (Dec):-24° 3' 13.51"
Field of view:2.66 x 2.72 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 10.3° right of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
OIII
502 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
NII
656 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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