The James Webb Space Telescope has documented the last phase before a star dies. The US space agency Nasa published a photo of the rare observation with the telescope on Tuesday, which was launched in late 2021. The image shows dust and gas being thrown into space by a huge, hot star some 15,000 light-years away. The ejected material once formed the outer shell of the star known as WR 124.
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Decades ago, the Hubble space telescope was able to take a picture of the star in transition. It appeared like a fireball and the image material was still poor in detail. A transformation like the one now illustrated with the help of the new space telescope occurs only in some stars. According to scientists, this is usually the last phase before the explosion, the supernova. “We’ve never seen it like this before. It’s really exciting,” said Macarena Garcia Marin of the Space Agencies in Europe (ESA).