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Astronomy Picture of the Day



AE Aurigae and the Flaming Star Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright [2]: Rolf Geissinger [3]

Explanation: AE Aurigae [4] is the bright star below and left of center in this evocative portrait of IC 405 [5], also known as the Flaming Star Nebula. Embedded in the cosmic cloud, the hot, variable O-type star [6] energizes the glow of hydrogen along convoluted filaments of atomic gas, its blue starlight scattered by interstellar [7] dust. But AE Aurigae wasn’t formed in the nebula it illuminates. Retracing the star’s motion through space, astronomers conclude that AE Aurigae was probably born in the Orion Nebula [8]. Close gravitational encounters with other stars ejected it from the region, along with another O star, Mu Columbae [9], over two million years ago. The runaway stars [10] have drifted in opposite directions ever since, separating at about 200 kilometers per second. This sharp, detailed image of IC 405 spans over 5 light-years at the nebula’s estimated distance of 1,500 light-years in the northern constellation Auriga [11], the Charioteer.


Weekly APOD Music Video [12]; Can your garage band do better?


Visit the NASA/JPL website to view more Astronomy Pictures of the Day [13]

Astronomy Picture of the Day