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!