• Ville Miettinen

Hidden jewel of Cygnus

In 1867 a french astronomer and assistant of Paris Observatory, Charles Wolf and the founder and director of the Bordeaux Observatory, Georges Rayet, studied unusual star spectrums using the 40 cm Foucault telescope at the Paris Observatory. These stars were catalogued on the basis of the strong broad emission lines in their spectra, identified with helium, nitrogen, carbon, silicon, and oxygen. Hydrogen lines were often weak or absent. This particular object in my photograph is called WR 134. It was one of three stars in Cygnus observed in 1867 by Wolf and Rayet. Powerful stellar winds shed the star of its outer envelopes as it burns its nuclear fuel at a remarkable rate. The shockwaves that the star spews out are surrounded by interstellar hydrogen gas of the Milky Way galaxy, this violent phase in the life cycle of this star will eventually end in a supernova explosion.