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Wolf-Rayet Stars

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Manuel Wolff ; Johannes Zabl ; Jürgen Leschhorn
Leonard Storz

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Group 142

The picture shows the Wolf-Rayet star WR 124, which is exploding in slow motion.


In 1867 the two astronomers C.J.E. Wolf and G. Rayet working in the observatory of Paris identified a new category of stars. The group of Wolf-Rayet stars represents a short stage of life in the evolution of massive stars (about 15 M ¤ and more) .
With high temperatures of about 25000 to 50000 K and huge luminosities ( wpeA.jpg (814 Byte)to wpeB.jpg (816 Byte)L ¤ ), they represent an extreme type of star.
Their extraordinary status is received by their spectrum with broad emission lines. This is a consequence of their heavy stellar winds that are marked by the Wolf-Rayet stars' special chemical composition which is characterized by the products of further nuclear fusions (N, C, O) and less Hydrogen.
By these processes these heavy stars enrich our universe with the variety of higher elements that are so important for the human existence.

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