While this star was discovered decades ago, it’s the first time researchers have seen it up close—and it’s brought with it some surprises. But none of that explains why NASA chooses to call it Nasty One.
This new image was captured by Hubble. NASA explains what you can see—and what it didn’t expect:
Nasty One was identified as a Wolf-Rayet star, a rapidly evolving star that is much more massive than our sun. The star loses its hydrogen-filled outer layers quickly, exposing its super-hot and extremely bright helium-burning core... But Nasty One doesn’t look like a typical Wolf-Rayet star. The astronomers using Hubble had expected to see twin lobes of gas flowing from opposite sides of the star, perhaps similar to those emanating from the massive star Eta Carinae, which is a Wolf-Rayet candidate. Instead, Hubble revealed a pancake-shaped disk of gas encircling the star. The vast disk is nearly 2 trillion miles wide.
As for the nickname? That’s perhaps a bit easier to understand. When the star was first cataloged, it was ascribed the code ‘NaSt1’... [NASA]