is the bright star below and left of center in this
evocative portrait of IC 405,
also known as the Flaming Star Nebula.
Embedded in the cosmic cloud, the hot, variable
O-type star energizes
the glow of hydrogen along convoluted filaments of atomic gas,
its blue starlight scattered by
But AE Aurigae wasn't formed in the nebula it illuminates.
Retracing the star's motion through space, astronomers
conclude that AE Aurigae was probably born in the
Close gravitational encounters with other stars
ejected it from the region, along with another O star,
over two million years ago.
runaway stars have drifted in opposite directions
ever since, separating at about 200 kilometers per second.
This sharp, detailed image of IC 405
spans over 5 light-years at the
nebula's estimated distance of 1,500 light-years
in the northern constellation
Auriga, the Charioteer.