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Thor’s Helmet – NGC 2359

Thor’s Helmet – NGC 2359

Thor’s Helmet is an emission nebula located in the southern constellation Canis Major. Its designation in the New General Catalogue is NGC 2359. The nebula is 30 light years in size and lies at a distance of 11,960 light years from Earth.

NGC 2359 was named Thor’s Helmet because its bubble shape and filaments resemble the depictions of the Norse god’s helmet.

The nebula is located about 8 degrees to the northeast of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

The central star of Thor’s Helmet is the Wolf-Rayet star WR 7 (HD 56925, HIP 35 378). WR 7 is a large, bright star located near the centre of the helmet. The star is believed to be about 280,000 times brighter than the Sun, 16 times more massive and 1.41 times larger. It has a surface temperature of 112,000 K and is about 20 million years old.

Wolf-Rayet stars are evolved, extremely hot and luminous stars in the last stage of their life, that are rapidly losing mass as a result of a strong, high-speed stellar wind. The speed of WR 7’s stellar wind is estimated at 1,545 km/s. The star will end its life as a brilliant supernova in the relatively near future.

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