A spectacular rotating pinwheel system just down the astronomical road from Earth — 8,000 light years away — includes an unstable Wolf-Rayet star that could explode.
Eight years ago, WR104 was discovered in the constellation Sagittarius by Sydney University astronomer Peter Tuthill.
A Wolf-Rayet star is the last step on the way to a supernova — the explosion of a star at the end of its life.
Images from the Mauna Kea in Hawaii telescope show that every eight months the two stars at the centre of the pinwheel orbit each other, leaving a trail of hot gas, carbon and dust.
"Viewed from Earth, the rotating tail appears to be laid out on the sky in an almost perfect spiral," Tuthill said. "It could only appear like that if we are looking nearly exactly down on the axis of the binary system."