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Contains:  Flaming Star nebula, IC 405
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Flaming Star Nebula, 


            Richard Francis
Flaming Star Nebula

Flaming Star Nebula

Technical card

Resolution: 3326x2504

Dates:Nov. 28, 2016Nov. 30, 2016Dec. 2, 2016

Astrodon Blue G2E: 10x900" -20C bin 1x1
Astrodon Green G2E: 11x900" -20C bin 1x1
Astrodon Red G2E: 13x900" -20C bin 1x1

Integration: 8.5 hours

Avg. Moon age: 10.73 days

Avg. Moon phase: 3.28%

Mean SQM: 21.00 job: 2012284

RA center: 79.123 degrees

DEC center: 34.355 degrees

Pixel scale: 1.408 arcsec/pixel

Orientation: 93.027 degrees

Field radius: 0.814 degrees

Locations: Le Bourdieu Observatory, La Romieu, France

Data source: Backyard


The bright star in the centre of this image, AE Aurigae, an O-type giant, started its life as half of a close binary star system in the region of the Trapezium, in the Orion Nebula, M42. The double star had a near collision with another double star system (which survived and became the spectroscopic binary Iota Orionis) and in consequence the double star was ripped apart, with each component flying off in opposite directions with the orbital speed of this binary system. This speed is enormous: 100 km/s, and in the 2.5 million years since the encounter the separation between the original twin stars is now 1600 light-years. Its original twin is now Mu-Columbae, while the other double star system still lies within Orion.

It is only by chance that AE Auriga now lies within a gaseous nebula -- it is racing through it, ionising it and illuminating it as it passes. Both of these characteristics can be seen in this image, with the typical red glow of ionised hydrogen and the greyish tone of the dust which is being illuminated. AE Aurigae is moving in from the south, which is to the right in this image, and seems to be generating shock waves in the nebula.

By the way, it is called the Flaming Star because one of the early photographic images of the area, made by Max Wolf in 1892, appeared to show "enormous curved flames" coming from the star (which one assumes are the illuminated dust visible in this image) and in his paper on the subject he referred to it as a "flaming star".

The distance from Earth is uncertain, but is between 1000 and 2000 light-years.



Richard Francis
License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons


  • Flaming Star Nebula, 


            Richard Francis
  • Final
    Flaming Star Nebula, 


            Richard Francis


Fully reprocessed, from the same data, following the workflow in Warren Keller's excellent Pixinsight book.

Sky plot

Sky plot


Flaming Star Nebula, 


            Richard Francis