James Webb Space Telescope Cosmic Fingerprint Stars Wolf Rayet
Even though you can’t visit this cosmic fingerprint captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope like Fingerprint Island in Croatia, it’s definitely a sight to be hold. What you’re actually looking at are 17 concentric dust rings emanating from a pair of stars, collectively known as Wolf-Rayet 140, located just over 5,000 light-years from Earth.

Each individual ring that you see was formed when the two stars came close together and their stellar winds met. This caused the gas to compress and form dust, while the stars’ orbits bring them together approximately once every eight years. Similar to the growth of rings of a tree’s trunk, the dust loops basically mark the passage of time.

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We’re looking at over a century of dust production from this system. The image also illustrates just how sensitive this telescope 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 NSF’s NOIRLab.

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