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Jellyfish-like star spotted in the sky

The jellyfish-like object depicted is a sphere of stellar innards, blown out from a humongous star as it ages. The star is one of the most massive stellar residents of our Milky Way galaxy.

Image

The red-colored jellyfish-like object in this new infrared image obtained on June 18 from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) is a sphere of stellar innards, blown out from a humongous star.

NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UCLA/AFP/Newscom

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A new photo a star shedding its gassy layers bears a striking resemblance to a red jellyfish floating in a sea of green kelp.

The jellyfish-star photo depicts a sphere of stellar innards, blown out from a humongous star as it ages. The star (white dot in center of red ring) is one of the most massive stellar residents of our Milky Way galaxy.

The new image was taken by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), currently in orbit around Earth. [More WISE telescope photos.]

Called V385 Carinae, the star spotted by WISE is 35 times as massive as our sun, with a diameter nearly 18 times as large. It's hotter, too, and shines with more than one million times the amount of light.

Objects like this are called Wolf-Rayet stars, after the astronomers who found the first few, and make our sun look puny by comparison. These fiery candles burn out quickly, leading short lives of only a few million years (our sun is middle-aged and about 4.6 billion years old).

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