M1-67 (Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt)

In an image that shows the effect one star can have on its surroundings, we see a sunning nebula that is driven by a central wolf-rayet star, called WR 124 (otherwise known as Hen 2-427).

Like all wolf-rayet stars, WR 124 is huge and highly unstable, expelling large quantities of its gaseous envelope into space. Gravity takes hold of the material, and twists it into gaseous tendrils that tend to be incredibly complex. Adding another layer of complexity to the region is the ionization of the gas—the mechanism that gives it its orange-tinged glow. It doesn’t hurt that the star is around 150,000 times more luminous than the Sun.

WR 124, which moves at speeds reaching 125 miles (200 km) per second, has another notable characteristic… it also happens to be one of the fastest runaway stars ever discovered. Moreover, even its stellar winds are fast. According to NASA/ESA, “hot clumps of gas are ejected into space at over 93,206 miles (150,000 kilometers) per hour.”

The nebula itself—dubbed M1-67—is believed to be young, no more than 10,000 years old, by some estimates. Both can be found about 15,000 light-years from Earth toward the Sagittarius constellation.

The original image was taken by Hubble in 1998, but this one has been processed by Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla).


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