Mondays are hard. But with the right space photos, you can feel cool and collected no matter what – because the universe is beautiful and big, and there's something pretty calming about that.
Just try to keep stressing out about your commute with this one on your screen: A beautiful cosmic bubble floating 30,000 light years away.
At the center of the blue haze sits a Wolf–Rayet star known as WR 31a. Wolf-Rayet stars start out as burning behemoths around 20 times more massive than our sun. When these massive stars reach the Wolf-Rayet stage of their lifecycle, they frantically fuse heavy elements in their core – a process that creates more heat and radiation, causing their outer layers to blow away – until they reach the ones too heavy for fusion.
These stars typically lose half their mass in less than 100,000 years, making them incredibly short-lived by cosmic standards. Once the days of fusion are numbered, they implode into supernovae or black holes, depending on just how massive they are.
The beautiful blue bubble shown above is a so-called Wolf–Rayet nebula – the result of the star's shirking of its gasses. This particular bubble was formed by interstellar winds around 20,000 years ago, and it's expanding outward at a not-so-calming 136,700 miles per hour.
Eventually WR31a will explode into a supernova, seeding its neighborhood with materials that will be recycled into a new generation of stars.