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ζ Ophiuchi in Infrared!

SkyHarbor, 2013/02/22 

This infrared image, obtained by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope on Dec. 24, 2012, shows the giant star Zeta Ophiuchi. Zeta Ophiuchi is a young, large and hot star located around 370 light-years away The star is traveling at a snappy pace of about 54,000 mph (24 kilometers per second), fast enough to break the sound barrier in the surrounding interstellar material. Because of this motion, it creates a spectacular bow shock ahead of its direction of travel (to the left). The structure is analogous to the ripples that precede the bow of a ship as it moves through the water, or the sonic boom of an airplane hitting supersonic speeds.

Just too beautiful a shot to pass up!


  1. Max wrote,


    Comment on 2013/02/22 @ 12:49 pm

  2. byronius wrote,

    Beauty. Going there.

    In my mind. Sigh.

    ‘Sky high-flying from the top of the stairs
    crashes to the floor stands up and he swears
    I’m tired of the earth pulling down on me
    I’m gonna build a machine to repeal the gravity’

    Make it so, Harbor, make it so.

    Comment on 2013/02/22 @ 1:33 pm

  3. Max wrote,

    Sky, two things: 1) In all of the extraordinary posts that have ever been on this site I think you have just found the most incredibly beautiful image, and 2) I think you might be the first to insert a Greek character into a title, and a suitably beautiful one at that.

    I want a wall size version of that image.

    Comment on 2013/02/22 @ 4:01 pm

  4. Max wrote,

    Maybe I’m a little slow, but ζ Ophiuchi is framed by its own gorgeous near-letter ζ.

    Comment on 2013/02/22 @ 4:38 pm

  5. SkyHarbor wrote,

    re #3: I was going through a slide show @ and it stopped me in my tracks. I found the original full-size NASA Spitzer image HERE. It’s 4015 x 3637 so you could blow it up into a nice poster. Enjoy! I like the Greek alphabet!

    re #4: that’s actually the bow shock wave of the star… ;-)

    Comment on 2013/02/22 @ 6:56 pm

  6. Cat-eyes wrote,

    Thanks Sky – it’s gorgeous!!

    Comment on 2013/02/23 @ 11:07 am

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