NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 1 March 2023: Flaming Nebula, Tadpole Nebula and Comet ZTF

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is a stellar picture of the Flaming Nebula, Tadpole Nebula and the Comet ZTF in one frame.

| Updated on: Mar 01 2023, 12:14 IST
Best NASA Astronomy Pictures of the week: Double Galaxy Cluster, Comet ZTF and more
Flaming Star Nebula
1/5 Double Star Cluster (Feb 20) - It is a 100-million-year-old globular star cluster located 160,000 light-years away in the constellation Dorado. What’s unusual about this star cluster is its size and shape is reminiscent of the other ancient star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. However, this double star cluster is not present in our galaxy and belongs in the Large Magellanic Cloud. (NASA/ESA/Hubble/Paul Goudfrooij(STScI))
Flaming Star Nebula
2/5 Comet ZTF (Feb 21) - It is a mesmerizing picture of Comet ZTF streaking across the skies over Yosemite Falls located in the Sierra Nevada region of California. According to NASA, this comet was discovered by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility in 2022 in March last year. (NASA/Tara Mostofi)
Flaming Star Nebula
3/5 Rising Solar Activity (Feb 22) - This picture is a snapshot of the rising activity on the surface of the Sun. This image was captured two weeks ago in a single colour of light known as Hydrogen Alpha. Solar prominences can be observed hurling out from the surface while the Sun’s edges are brighter due to increased absorption of relatively cool solar gas. (NASA/Mehmet Ergun)
Flaming Star Nebula
4/5 Spiral Galaxy Arp 78 (Feb 23) - A peculiar spiral galaxy called Arp 78 can be seen in this image. It is an enormous galaxy which spans nearly 200,000 light-years across and exists almost 100 million light-years away in the constellation Aries. Arp 78 is also known as NGC 772. Alongside Arp 78, another faint galaxy can be seen, which is NGC 770.  (NASA/Josep Drudis)
Flaming Star Nebula
5/5 Headphone Nebula Jones-Emberson 1 (Feb 24) - A stellar nebula known as Jones-Emberson 1 also called as the Headphone Nebula owing to its peculiar headphone-like shape. The Headphone Nebula is located about 1600 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Lynx. (NASA/Serge Brunier/Jean-Francois Bax/David Vernet/ C2PU/OCA)
Flaming Star Nebula
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Flaming Star Nebula, Tadpole Nebula and the Comet ZTF are captured in close proximity. (NASA/Thomas Roell)

Stars, which illuminate our Universe, are formed in a giant cloud of dust and gas in space, known as a Nebula. Although many nebulae are located extremely far away, NASA has been able to observe them using advanced technology such as the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope. One such Nebula discovered with such amazing technology is the Flaming Star Nebula. No, this nebula isn't on fire, but it has been named the Flaming Star Nebula because the star at the center of the Nebula, called AE Aurigae, seems to harbor smoke.

NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a stellar picture of the Flaming Star Nebula and the Tadpole Nebula crossing paths with the Comet ZTF. IC405, otherwise known as the Flaming Star Nebula, lies about 1,500 light-years away toward the constellation of Auriga and spans about 5 light-years across. According to NASA, AE Aurigae, a luminous star located at the center of the nebula, has a blue colour due to its high temperature. It radiates such intense light that it causes the displacement of electrons from atoms present in the surrounding gas.

The picture was captured by Thomas Roell, who is a Boeing 737 pilot by day, and an astrophotographer by night.

NASA's description

Is star AE Aurigae on fire? No. Even though AE Aurigae is named the Flaming Star and the surrounding nebula IC 405 is named the Flaming Star Nebula, and even though the nebula appears to some like a swirling flame, 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 bright star AE Aurigae occurs near the center of the Flaming Star Nebula and is so hot it glows blue, emitting light so energetic it knocks electrons away from surrounding gas.

When a proton recaptures an electron, light is emitted, as seen in the surrounding emission nebula. Captured here three weeks ago, the Flaming Star Nebula is visible near the composite image's center, between the red Tadpole Nebula on the left and blue-tailed Comet ZTF on the right. 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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First Published Date: 01 Mar, 12:13 IST
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