Wolf-Rayet star WR 124

Some stars explode in slow motion. Rare, massive Wolf-Rayet stars they are losing mass rapidly by means of a very strong stellar wind, with speeds up to 2000 km/s. They typically lose 10 solar masses a year, a billion times higher than the sun.

Image credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA – Processing & Licence: Judy Schmidt

Wolf-Rayet star WR 124, visible near the above image center spanning six light years across, is thus creating the surrounding nebula known as M1-67. Details of why this star has been slowly blowing itself apart over the past 20,000 years remains a topic of research. WR 124 lies 15,000 light-years away towards the constellation of Sagitta. The fate of any given Wolf-Rayet star likely depends on how massive it is, but many are thought to end their lives with spectacular explosions such as supernovas or gamma-ray bursts.

source APOD