James Webb telescope An unusual dust pattern around two stars that can trace the passage of time similar to the ring patterns found within tree trunks. The image, detailed by the European Space Agency and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shows a pattern of 17 concentric rings of dust particles surrounding two stars known as Wolf-Rayet 140.
as , Wolf-Rayet stars are believed to be rare in our galaxy, and only 600 have been discovered so far. And Wolf-Rayet 140 is the only system found to have this type of ring pattern, due to the peculiar shape of its orbit, which is “elongated” rather than circular. Some of the rings are the result of an interaction that occurs when the two stars come close to each other, once every eight years, forming a kind of “fingerprint” around the stars.
“Each ring was created when the two stars came close to each other, and their stellar winds (streams of gas exploding in space) met, compressing the gas and forming dust,” ESA explains. “The orbits of the stars bring them together about once every eight years; like the rings of a tree trunk, the rings of dust indicate the passage of time.”
The image also shows the level of detail possible with James Webb’s tools. Prior to this capture, scientists using ground-based telescopes could see only two rings of dust around Wolf-Rayet 140.
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