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Nebulae Near the Hot Wolf-Rayet Star
BAT99-2 in the LMC
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Name: BAT99-2, LMC
Description: Nebulae
Position: RA 05h 23m 34.5s   Dec -69° 45' 22?
Constellation: Dorado
Distance: 180,000 light years
Image Credit: ESO
Release Date: April 9, 2003
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This three-color composite image of the highly excited nebula near the Wolf-Rayet (WR) star BAT99-2 in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) was obtained in January 2002 with the FORS1 multi-mode instrument at the 8.2-m VLT MELIPAL telescope at the Paranal Observatory (Chile). It is based on three exposures through narrow-band optical (interference) filters that isolate the light from specific atoms and ions. In this rendering, the blue color represents the light from singly ionized Helium (He II; wavelength 468.6 nm; exposure time 60 min), green corresponds to doubly ionized oxygen ([O III]; 495.7 + 500.7 nm; 5 min) and red to hydrogen atoms (H; H-alpha line at 656.2 nm; 5 min). Of these three ions, He II is the tracer of high excitation, i.e. the bluest areas of the nebula are the hottest. The sky field measures 400 x 400 square arcsec; the original pixel size on the 2k x 2k CCD is 0.23 arcsec. North is up and east to the left. Before combination, the CCD frames were flat-fielded and cleaned of cosmic-rays. Moreover, the stars in the blue (He II) image were removed in order to provide a clearer view of the surrounding nebular emission. The reproduced brightness is proportional to the square-root of the actual intensity; this increases the "dynamical range" of the image, i.e. it shows better areas of very different brightness.

BAT99-2 is one of the hottest WR-stars known in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Before this star reached this phase of its short life, the strong stellar wind from its progenitor O-type star swept the interstellar medium and created a "bubble", much like a snowplow pushes aside the snow on a road. Part of this "bubble" can still be seen as a large half-ring to the south of the star. When the star did become a WR, the increasingly intense stellar wind impacted on the material previously ejected from the star. This created a new bubble, now visible as a small arc-like structure to the north-west of the star. We are appparently witnessing an ongoing merger of these two bubbles. With its strong ultraviolet (UV) radiation, BAT99-2 is strongly heating its immediate surroundings, in particular the above mentioned arc-like feature that, due to the resulting high excitation, is seen as a violet-pink region in the colour image. The entire field is very complex - the presence of a supernova remnant (SNR) is revealed by a few faint red filaments rather close to the high excitation nebula, to the north-west of the arc-like structure.