A new photo taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured a dazzling "blue bubble," which is actually a nebula - an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and various other gases, according to the agency's press release. The unique bubble is a Wolf-Rayet star named WR 31a that is located approximately 30,000 light-years away from us in the constellation of Carina.
The bubble is believed to have come into existence around 20,000 years ago, and continues to expand at a rate of approximately 136,700 miles per hour, Tech Times reports. It is believed to stem from fast stellar winds interacting with the outer hydrogen layers of WR 31a, which are typically ring-shaped or spherical.
In cosmic time, the bubble has a very short lifespan - around a few hundred thousand years - and although it begins with a mass at least 20 times that of the sun, Wolf-Rayet stars are prone to losing half of their mass over the course of 10,000 years. The star captured in the photo will eventually follow the same fate, ending its life as a supernova that expels its stellar materials into space - materials that will become a part of future generations of stars and planets.
The picture of WR31a's blue bubble was taken using the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera (WFC) through a wide V-band (fF606W) and near-infrared (F814W) filter, according to Sci-News.com.