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Collapse of a Wolf-Rayet star

Collapse of a Wolf-Rayet star

C042/6271

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Credit

NASA / SKYWORKS DIGITAL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SKYWORKS DIGITAL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Collapse of a massive star. Artwork (image 2 of 7) showing the collapse of a Wolf-Rayet star (a stage in the evolution of a very massive star). The core of the Wolf-Rayet star has collapsed, forming a black hole surrounded by a disk of accreting matter. Within a few seconds, jets of matter are ejected at near the speed of light, seen here (white) breaking through the outer shell (blue) of the star. The jets, in conjunction with vigorous winds of radioactive nickel-56 blowing off the disk inside, shatter the star within seconds, creating a supernova event and generating a gamma-ray burst. Observations of a very energetic supernova, associated with a long gamma-ray burst (GRB 030329) in the constellation Leo on 29 March 2003, provide evidence for this collapsar model of the origin of some gamma-ray bursts.

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