WR 104
WR 104 is a Wolf-Rayet star
Wolf-Rayet star
Wolf–Rayet stars are evolved, massive stars , which are losing mass rapidly by means of a very strong stellar wind, with speeds up to 2000 km/s...

 discovered in 1998, located 8,000 light years from Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

. It is a binary star with a class OB companion. The stars have an orbital period of 220 days and the interaction between their stellar winds produce a spiral "pinwheel" outflow pattern over 200 astronomical unit
Astronomical unit
An astronomical unit is a unit of length equal to about or approximately the mean Earth–Sun distance....

s long. The spiral is composed of dust that would normally be prevented from forming by WR 104's intense radiation were it not for the star's companion. The region where the stellar wind from the two massive stars interacts compresses the material enough for the dust to form, and the rotation of the system causes the spiral-shaped pattern.

Some optical measurements indicate that WR 104's rotational axis is aligned within 16° of Earth. This could have potential implications to the effects of WR 104's eventual supernova
A supernova is a stellar explosion that is more energetic than a nova. It is pronounced with the plural supernovae or supernovas. Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months...

, since these explosions often produce jets from their rotational poles. It is possible that WR 104 may even produce a gamma-ray burst, though it is not possible to predict with certainty at this time. Newer spectroscopic data suggest that WR 104's rotational axis is more likely angled 30–40° from Earth.

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