Astronomy Picture of the Day



AE Aurigae: The Flaming Star

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#81130 by @ 19.10.2005 00:00 - nach oben -
AE Aurigae: The Flaming Star


Explanation:
Is star AE Aurigae on fire? No.

Even though
AE Aurigae is named the flaming star,
the surrounding nebula
IC 405 is named the
Flaming Star Nebula, and the region appears to harbor red smoke,
there is no fire.

Fire,
typically defined as the rapid molecular acquisition of
oxygen,
happens only when sufficient oxygen is present and is not important
in such high-energy, low-oxygen environments such as stars.

The material that appears as smoke is mostly
interstellar hydrogen,
but does contain smoke-like dark filaments of carbon-rich
dust grains.

The bright star
AE Aurigae, visible just below the image center, is so hot it is blue,
emitting light so energetic it knocks
electrons away from surrounding gas.

When a proton
recaptures an electron, red light is frequently emitted, as seen in the surrounding
emission nebula.


Pictured above, the
Flaming Star nebula lies about 1,500
light years distant, spans about 5 light years,
and is visible with a small telescope toward the
constellation of
the Charioteer (Auriga).




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