Hubble telescope observes strange behaviors of NaSt1 aka Wolf–Rayet 122


Recently the Hubble Space Telescope has observed some weird behaviors of a strange star called Nasty 1. According to Hubble’s official website, the telescope has allowed astronomers to make some fresh discoveries about the star.

For those who don’t know: the star’s weird nickname has been derived from its catalog name NaSt1. Astronomers feel that such a name suits the star as it keeps on exhibiting some off behavior. In spite of being a Wolf-Rayet star, Nasty 1 never behaves like one.

Usually, Wolf-Rayet stars have twin gaseous lobes flowing from their opposite sides. However, when observing this strange star, astronomers got to see something different. They saw a pancake-like gaseous disk surrounding the star. According to the official Hubble website, the disk’s diameter is around thousand times that of the solar system.

These stars tend to swell up when the level of hydrogen in them starts to decrease; swelling up of the stars leaves their outer layer at greater risk of experiencing gravitational stripping by nearby stars. The moment the star’s helium center gets exposed, it turns into a Wolf-Rayet star.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay (STScI)
Credit: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay (STScI)

At times, when the stars become busy struggling with each other’s gravity, the stripped substances start spilling out. According to scientists, those spills handle forming the strange disc around Nasty 1. These facts were presented by Jon Mauerhan of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Berkeley.

Mauerhan was the leader of the team of astronomers carrying out the above-mentioned study using the Hubble Space Telescope. The study was published on Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society’s online edition last Thursday.

Mauerhan further said that this kind of sloppy planetary cannibalism makes Nasty 1 the best possible name the star could have had. According to him, the information collected during this latest study will assist astronomers to comprehend the process of star formation better.

As mentioned above, the name Nasty 1 has been derived from the star’s original catalog name NaSt1. The star got its catalog name way back in 1963. The name contains the combination of the first two letters of the surname of the two astronomers discovering the star; they were Jason Nassau and Charles Stephenson.

SOURCEOxford Journals
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