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posted by hubie on Friday March 17 2023, @05:24AM   Printer-friendly

JWST will help scientists investigate the troublesome dust budget surplus of the universe:

NASA released a new image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which depicts a star named "WR 124" that is located 15,000 light years away from Earth, in the Sagittarius constellation. WR 124 is a Wolf Rayet-type star, a rare kind of star which is among the most luminous, most massive, and most briefly detectable stars known, NASA explained.

WR 124 was actually one of the first observations made by JWST in June 2022, the space agency said, but the image has been unveiled just now. The Wolf-Rayet phase is a brief condition some stars go through during their lifetime before turning into supernovae, which makes Webb's observations a valuable asset to astronomers studying the life of stars.

WR 124 is 30 times the mass of our Sun, NASA said, and it has "shed" 10 Suns' worth of material so far. The ejected gas moves away from the central body and cools down, forming cosmic dust and glowing in the infrared light that is detectable by Webb's advanced instruments.

[...] Before Webb, astronomers investigating cosmic dust simply had no way to capture detailed images and information about a dust-rich environment like the WR 124 nebula. And dust, NASA said, plays an essential role in the inner working of the universe as it shelters forming stars, and gathers together to help shape planets, molecules and even the building blocks of life on Earth.

Dust is a fundamental element for our universe, and yet scientists still have to explain why the universe seemingly contains more dust than our current dust-formation theories can justify. The universe is "operating with a dust budget surplus," NASA remarked.

Released NASA picture, and a 30-second video panning across the image.


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  • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Friday March 17 2023, @03:02PM (2 children)

    by Freeman (732) on Friday March 17 2023, @03:02PM (#1296695) Journal

    Based on the speed of light, they already happened, we just can't see it yet?

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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday March 17 2023, @03:26PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday March 17 2023, @03:26PM (#1296697)

    >Based on the speed of light

    Well, yes, of course... I'd really appreciate it if we could establish a standard of spacetime language such that our time references are "as observed from this point in space" for now, future and past.

    When we have warp drive, then we can start parsing issues of: did it happen already and the light just hasn't reached our observation point yet.

    I believe StarTrek's Stardate system is an earth based reference such that: as you warp away from Earth the Stardate actually goes backwards? Of course, whatever thought may have been put into such things is completely overshadowed by the "slingshot so close to the Sun that we exceed Warp 10 and travel back in time to 1968" storylines, not to mention Red matter et. al.

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  • (Score: 1) by Setsuna on Saturday March 18 2023, @09:11PM

    by Setsuna (23804) on Saturday March 18 2023, @09:11PM (#1296953)

    From our frame of reference, for all intents and purposes, it hasn't yet happened.