James Webb telescope spotted concentric dust rings around an unusual binary star

(ORDO NEWS) — James Webb has obtained unique images of the WR 140 binary system, which show 17 jagged dust rings surrounding a pair of giant stars – many times more than in images from ground-based telescopes.

These rings are formed by the interaction of stellar wind streams emanating from both stars, and are full of carbon and organic matter.

A new space telescope has examined the famous double WR 140 in never-before-seen detail. He was able to see at once 17 asymmetric dust rings surrounding a pair of massive stars and get their spectrum.

By modeling their rotation and particle flows emanating from the participants in this tandem, scientists confirmed their assumptions about how such unusual rings arise.

The WR 140 system is located at a distance of about five thousand light years and includes two massive stars.

One of them belongs to the blue giants of spectral type O. The second is Wolf’s star – Raye , also a giant, but in the later stages of evolution.

It has almost completely exhausted its hydrogen shells and burns out helium, due to which the star is extremely hot, strongly radiates and emits a powerful stream of stellar wind particles with a rather high content of “heavy” elements, including oxygen, nitrogen and carbon.

In WR 140, a pair of giants are very close to each other, moving in an elongated orbit with a period of less than eight of our years.

James Webb telescope spotted concentric dust rings around an unusual binary star 2
Giant stars WR 140 compared to the Sun

A strong stellar wind is emitted by both members of this extreme tandem. Each time they come close, their ejected streams meet and the high pressure causes the particles to condense into dust.

And due to the peculiarities of the orbital motion of stars, these areas look like a series of open concentric rings.

Ground-based telescopes allow you to consider one, maximum – two of them. However, the new space observatory James Webb during recent observations distinguished as many as 17 rings, extending up to a light year away from the binary system itself.

These observations form the basis of new work by Ryan Lau and his colleagues, who modeled the orbital dynamics and stellar wind of binary WR 140.

The calculations matched exactly what James Webb saw, showing the same series of open, asymmetric dust rings, formed around the system.

Each of them corresponds to one rotation of the stars around the common center of gravity. So the 17 rings that the telescope noticed appeared in just the last 130 years.

This allows us to estimate the impressive speed of the expansion of stellar wind particles – about 2600 kilometers per second.


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