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n July, a puzzling new image of a distant extreme star system surrounded by surreal concentric geometric rungs had even astronomers scratching their heads. The picture, which looks like a kind of "cosmic thumbprint," came from the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA's newest flagship observatory.

The internet immediately lit up with theories and speculation. Some on the wild fringe even claimed it as evidence for "alien megastructures" of unknown origin.

Luckily, our team at the University of Sydney had already been studying this very star, known as WR140, for more than 20 years—so we were in prime position to use physics to interpret what we were seeing.

Our model, published in Nature, explains the strange process by which the star produces the dazzling pattern of rings seen in the Webb image (itself now published in Nature Astronomy).

To read more, click here.

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