Cosmic Dust Produced by Binary Star

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Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Video imagery:

·       Webb telescope image of Wolf-Rayet 140: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, R. Hurt (JPL-Caltech)
·       Animation of Wolf-Rayet 140: NASA, ESA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)

Writer: Leah Ramsay
Designer: Leah Hustak, Joseph Olmsted
Science review: Dr. Quyen Hart


Photos of colorful nebula clouds and planets in space. Text, News from the Universe. Cosmic dust produced by binary star. October 12, 2022. A photo of a bright white star in space surrounded by an illuminated dust cloud with expanding ring shapes.
Cosmic dust is an important building block of the universe, but astronomers aren't sure where it all is coming from.
The James Webb Space Telescope reveals shells of dust surrounding the massive Wolf-Rayet binary star system. The center bright point is labeled, W R 140.
Text, As the stars approach each other, their stellar winds collide and form dust. An animation of two stars on intersecting orbits. Dust flies around them in a bright cloud when they get close to each other. Text, The dust is created like clockwork every 8 years. The number of expanding dusty shells detected indicates that the dust survives to reach interstellar space. This is evidence that Wolf-Rayet stars may be major producers of cosmic dust in the universe.
This news was brought to you in part by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.