Another Runaway

Yesterday, we took a look at a runaway quasar. Today, here’s a look at a runaway star. Zeta Ophiuchi produces the arcing interstellar bow wave or bow shock seen in this infrared  false-color portrait. Bluish Zeta Oph, a star about 20 times more massive than the Sun, is  near the center of the picture. The star is moving (toward the left of the image) at 24 km/s. Its strong stellar wind precedes it, compressing and heating interstellar dust and shaping it into a curved shock front.

Zeta Oph was likely once a member of a binary star system, and its companion star was probably even more massive and shorter lived. When the companion exploded as a supernova, Zeta Oph was flung out of the system. Zeta Oph is only a few about 460 light-years away and is 65,000 X brighter than the Sun. It would be one of the brighter stars in our sky if it weren’t surrounded by obscuring dust.

Image Credit: NASA

One thought on “Another Runaway

  1. In said it before and I’ll say it again.

    If you look up at the sky and see the expression of beauty through physics and are not in awe at the mindbogglingly expanse of it all, then you have no soul.

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