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A cosmic discovery

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Artist's rendering shows a glowing red arc that marks the region where winds from a hot, blue Wolf-Rayet star and its O-type companion collide. As it does on Earth, dust in space often hides in cold, dark corners, but astronomers said Monday that they have found cosmic dust in a hot region around a big bright star that will someday be a supernova. The scientists saw space dust forming and then being blown away in a system of two big bright stars about 4,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. Dust that is formed in this region and swept outward by the energetic Wolf-Rayet winds creates a pinwheel as the stars loop around each other, similar to the pattern of water sprayed from a lawn sprinkler.