Dying star

But how pretty, like a peony
blasted open with a starry center,
WR124 surrounded by watercolor

gases that signify its approaching
end, before it undergoes a turbulent
transformation, before it supernovas

into glowing cosmic dust. It’s shedding
its outer layers now, a molting star,
petals loosening at the edges as we

do when the end is near, letting go
of what’s not needed—in this case,
10 suns’ worth of universal material.

It’s hard to look away from the bright
core, even though we know its days
are numbered, even though we

remember it as a brilliant fireball of
orange, red, yellow dazzling energy. It’s
a mystery, what happens at the end,

especially if we’re not there to see it.
But all that starstuff it flings into the
universe makes us us—we who are

forged in iron and calcium from
ancestors that exploded billions of
years ago, as this one will one day,

spreading shimmer and dazzle through
the cosmos, baby planets born in star
nurseries, creating all that is, bringing

me to you and you to me in this
twinkling moment we share,
exquisite, yes, radiant,

and oh, so finite.

This composite image of the WR 124 star combines observations from Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).
Photo / NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team

About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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