The intriguing circles on a new James Webb Space Telescope picture have astronomers baffled

The James Webb Space Telescope captured the star WR 140 surrounded by strange concentric shells. (Image credit: NASA/ESA /CSA /Ryan Lau /JWST ERS Team /Judy Schmidt)

The James Webb Space Telescope captured enigmatic concentric rings around a distant star, which astronomers are still trying to explain. Judy Schmidt, a citizen scientist, posted the photograph on Twitter in July, triggering a flood of responses and puzzlement. It depicts WR140, a star surrounded by regular ripple-like rings that progressively fade away. The circles, on the other hand, are not exactly round, but rather have a square-like appearance, generating suspicion about possible alien origins.

Schmidt stated, "I think it's just nature doing something simple," but when we look at it from only one perspective, it is difficult to realize that it is a natural event at first. Why is it formed this way? Why is it so consistent?

In a Twitter thread, Mark McCaughrean, an interdisciplinary scientist in the James Webb Space Telescope Science Working Group and a science advisor to the European Space Agency, dubbed the feature "bonkers"

According to him, the six-pointed blue structure in this #JWST MIRI picture is an artifact caused by optical diffraction from the brilliant star WR140. But the red curvy-yet-boxy item, a sequence of shells centered around WR140, is genuine. Actually, I'm in space. A star in the sky. WR140 is a Wolf-Rayet star, which has ejected a large amount of hydrogen into space. He also mentioned that these objects are surrounded by dust, which a partner star is molding into the bizarre shells.

Astronomers will learn more about this intriguing occurrence shortly, due to a scholarly publication that is now being reviewed.

WR140, situated 5,600 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus, is a variable star that dims and brightens on a regular basis. It remains to be determined if the star's variability has anything to do with the unexplained ripples. The image, on the other hand, showcases the capability of the $10 billion James Webb Orbit Telescope, the most powerful observatory ever sent into space and lauded for its innovative infrared vision and super acute eye.

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