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NASA's WISE telescope captures 'runaway star'

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The blue star near the center of this image is Zeta Ophiuchi. A NASA/JPL photo

LONDON (PTI): Astronomers at NASA have captured the shockwave caused by a runaway star that's racing at 54,000 miles per hour through a cloud of dust and gas.

A NASA team used an orbiting observatory called WISE – that sees the sky in infrared light – to capture the star; It recorded the yellow arc as its powerful stellar winds push the gas and dust out of the way.

According to the astronomers, the star, labelled Zeta in the constellation of Ophiuchus the snake charmer, once revolved around another star. But its companion exploded as a violent supernova, flinging Zeta out into deep space.

Zeta Ophiuchi, as it is known, is a very massive hot blue star that is 65,000 times brighter than our own Sun and 20 times its size. It lies 458 light years away and appears brighter in the night sky if not shrouded by gas and dust.

But its estimated eight million year lifespan is far shorter than that of our Sun, which is expected to burn for 10 billion years. Like its long-lost companion, it will then blow itself to pieces in a supernova blast too, say the astronomers.

Tags:

Star  Supernova  NASA  WISE  
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