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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

UC Researchers Find Spiral-Shaped Star Is Only a Dancing Dust Pattern

April 08, 1999

UC Berkeley researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope have found what looks like a spiral-shaped star, but is actually a dust pattern produced by the courtly dance of a binary pair of stars. One member of the pair is Wolf-Rayet 104, a star that is so bright that photons actually eject dust and gases from the star's surface.

But WR 104's stellar wind is much dustier than expected. Astronomer William Danchi and his colleagues speculate in today's Nature that stellar wind from a companion star creates a shock wave that keeps the dust from being incinerated. The orbits of the stars cause the dust to assume a stellar shape. More details and pictures are available at


Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday April 15, 1999 Home Edition Metro Part B Page 2 Metro Desk 1 inches; 24 words Type of Material: Correction
Star image--The image of a spiral star in the March 8 Science File was captured with one of the Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, not with the Hubble Space Telescope.

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