Smoldering Giant
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Smoldering Giant

September 18, 2013
This new image, snapped by NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the star HD 184738, also known as Campbell’s hydrogen star. It is a Wolf-Rayet star — an evolutionary stage for stars with a mass of over 20 times that of our Sun, when they are rapidly blowing away material and losing mass. This type of star is named after two French astronomers, Charles Wolf and Georges Rayet, who first identified them in the mid-nineteenth century.

Stars like HD 184738 are short-lived, very massive, and extremely hot, with surface temperatures of up to 40 times higher than that of our Sun. They are also very luminous, though as they predominantly emit in the ultraviolet and X-ray parts of the spectrum, they may not appear to be exceptionally bright. The star’s distinctive fiery red color is caused by its nitrogen content.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA / Acknowledgement: Jean-Christophe Lambry

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