Is star AE Aurigae on fire?
Although surrounded by what may look like
, the object known as the "flaming star"
creates energy primarily by
, like other stars.Fire
, typically defined as the rapid molecular acquisition of
, happens only when sufficient
is present and is not important in such high-energy,
low-oxygen environments such as stars. The material that appears as smoke is mostly
, but does
contain smoke-like dark filaments of carbon-rich
. The AE Aurigae
region was imaged by the
in false but representative colors. The star
itself is very bright, young, blue,
and known as a
since it appears to have been ejected from the
region about 2.7 million years ago.
Credit: T. A. Rector & B. A. Wolpa, NOAO, AURA, NSF