The Flaming Star Nebula

aurigaAlso known as IC 405 or SH 2-229, or Caldwell 31 is an emission/reflection nebula in the constellation Auriga, surrounding the bluish star AE Aurigae. It shines at magnitude +6.0 and flamingstaris blue O-type main sequence dwarf. The nebula measures approximately 5 light-years across and lies about 1,500 light-years away. It is believed that the proper motion of the central star can be traced back to the Orion’s Belt area.

FlamingStarHunterWilsonRippling dust and gas lanes give the Flaming Star Nebula its name and the region seems to harbor smoke, but 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 ic405_1250high-energy, low-oxygen environments. The material that appears as smoke is mostly interstellar hydrogen, but does contain smoke-like dark filaments of carbon-rich dust grains. The red and blue colors of the nebula are present in different regions and are created by different processes. The bright star AE Aurigae 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. The blue region’s colour is a mix of this red light and blue light emitted by AE Aurigae, but reflected to us by surrounding dust. The two regions are referred to as emission nebula and reflection nebula, respectively. One and a half degree East from the Flaming Star Nebula is located IC 410,

Credits: Astrophoto, Hubble, NASA, Skyfactory, Space, Wikipedia.