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Hubble watches star demolish its surroundings

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(CNN) -- The dying breath of a rare and massive star blasts apart its surroundings in an image released this week from the Hubble Space Telescope.

The star, located in our Milky Way Galaxy, is an extremely rare and short-lived class of super-hot star called a Wolf-Rayet, astronomers said in a statement. Its fierce stellar wind is ripping apart a shell material it cast off 250,000 years ago, during the late stages of its life. The web of luminous surrounding material is known to astronomers as the Crescent Nebula.

Hubble's multicolored picture reveals with unprecedented clarity that the shell of matter is a network of filaments and dense knots, all enshrouded in a thin "skin" of gas (seen in blue), astronomers said.

Hubble's sharp vision is allowing scientists to probe the intricate details of this complex system, which is crucial to understanding the life cycle of stars and their impact on the evolution of our galaxy.

The results of the study appear in the June issue of the Astronomical Journal.



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Hubble telescope marks 10 years of wonder
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RELATED SITE:
Hubble Heritage Project
The Astronomical Journal

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