a ship plowing
through cosmic seas,
star Zeta Ophiuchi
produces the arcing interstellar bow wave or bow shock seen in this
infrared portrait from the WISE
In the false-color view, bluish Zeta Oph, a star about 20 times more
massive than the Sun, lies near the center of the frame, moving
toward the top at 24 kilometers per second.
Its strong stellar wind precedes it, compressing and heating the dusty
material and shaping the curved
Around it are clouds of relatively undisturbed material.
What set this star in motion?
Zeta Oph was likely once a member of a
star system, its
companion star was more massive and hence
When the companion
as a supernova catastrophically
Zeta Oph was flung out of the system.
About 460 light-years away, Zeta Oph is 65,000 times more
luminous than the Sun and would be one of the brighter stars in the sky
if it weren't surrounded by obscuring dust.
image spans about 1.5 degrees or 12 light-years
at the estimated distance of