NASA Image of the Day: Runaway star Alpha Giraffe

Astronomers believe that the movement of the Alpha star of the Giraffe cluster is due to gravitational interactions with other members of the cluster or perhaps the supernova explosion of a large star, which caused this star to be ejected from a hot young star cluster.

What do we see in today’s NASA image?

Like a ship sailing through cosmic seas, the runaway star Alpha Giraffe creates a bow wave, or bow shock. This massive star moves through space at a speed of more than 60 kilometers per second, compressing interstellar material in its path.

At the center of this approximately 6-degree view, we see the alpha star, which has a mass of about 25 to 30 times the mass of the Sun, five times hotter (30,000 Kelvin) and more than five hundred thousand times brighter. Located about four light-years away in the constellation Giraffe, this star produces strong stellar winds. The bow shock of the alpha star is about ten light years away from the star itself.

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