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News Release 05-055

Duel of the Winds

Powerful winds of two giant stars collide

Stellar wind collision regions

When winds collide: A Wolf-Rayet star (WR) and its giant companion (O) do battle.


April 12, 2005

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Like two ancient storm gods using nature's weaponry to wage war, this pair of ultra-massive stars has sent their fierce stellar winds smashing together across a region the size of our solar system. Now, astronomers have used the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array of radio telescopes to track the moving collision zone. One of the combatants is a true behemoth weighing in at some 50 times the mass of our own Sun. But the other, a comparative lightweight having "only" 20 times the mass of Sun, belongs to a category known as Wolf-Rayet stars--meaning it is on the brink of exploding as a supernova.

Astronomers reported their findings in the April 10 edition of the Astrophysical Journal.

For more information, see the news release from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Dave Finley, NRAO, (505) 835-7302, email: dfinley@nrao.edu
M. Mitchell Waldrop, NSF, (703) 292-7752, email: mwaldrop@nsf.gov

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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