NASA's Hubble telescope is known for bringing us some of the best images from space. If you'd like some visible proof, then treat yourself to our selection of its beauties.
Now, just in time for the spooky season, the telescope has released an image of a dying star that resembles a gateway to a nightmare universe.
"The drama of death among stars can look pretty eerie at times. This photo of the aging red giant star CW Leonis seems like something out of a Halloween tale. The star looks like it's entrapped inside wispy orange spider webs that wrap around the star. Beams of light shine through the dust, like sunbeams on a partly cloudy day. As it runs out of fuel, the star "burps" shells of sooty carbon that escape into space," writes NASA in a description provided along with the image.
NASA goes on to explain that the carbon partially responsible for this magnificent image was cooked up in the star's core as a waste product of nuclear. It also provides the raw material for the formation of future stars, planets, and maybe even life. After all, didn't Carl Sagan say that we are all made of star-stuff?
CW Leonis is the closest carbon star to Earth located at a distance of 400 light-years from our planet. This means it is close enough for astronomers to study it in detail and better analyze the interplay between the star and its surrounding turbulent envelope.
Most notable are the star's bright beams of light. These have surprisingly changed in brightness within an incredibly short time span in astronomical terms (just a mere 15 years). It has been suggested that their presence might be created by gaps in the dust shrouding CW Leonis that allow beams of starlight to pierce through and illuminate the dust.
However, the causes behind their change in brightness remain a mystery that only adds to the beauty of this dying star.