Wednesday, January 02, 2013

A massive star plows through material between stars

This is now the wallpaper on my iPad:


"This is a Spitzer Space Telescope view of the star Zeta Ophiuchus (or Zeta Oph to its friends), a massive star plowing through the gas and dust floating in space. Zeta Oph is a bruiser, with 20 times the Sun’s mass. It’s an incredibly luminous star, blasting out light at a rate 80,000 times higher than the Sun! Even at its distance of 400 light years or so, it should be one of the brightest stars in the sky … yet it actually appears relatively dim to the eye. That’s because it’s sitting in a dust cloud, dense opaque material that absorbs the light from the mighty star and diminishes it. However, infrared light can penetrate the murk, allowing us to peer into the cloud and see what’s going on."

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