Flaming Star Nebula (IC 405) in Auriga

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The Flaming Star Nebula (IC 405) is a diffuse emission/reflection nebula in Auriga constellation. It surrounds the irregular variable star AE Aurigae, a runaway star believed to originate in the Orion’s Belt area in Orion constellation.

The nebula is approximately 1,500 light years distant. It has an apparent magnitude of 6.0 and measures about 37.0’x19.0′ in size. It is five light years across. Its coordinates are 05h16m05s (right ascension) and 34°27’49’ (declination). The nebula can be seen in a small telescope.

It lies a degree and a half west of IC 410, which is another nebula, one that surrounds the small open star cluster NGC 1893.

The Flaming Star Nebula has two regions, an emission nebula and a reflection nebula. The bluish region’s colour comes from the blue light of AE Aurigae, as reflected by the surrounding dust.

ae aurigae,ic 405,flaming star nebula

AE Aurigae and the Flaming Star Nebula (IC 405), image: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona (CC BY-SA 3.0 US)

The nebula is mainly made up of hydrogen, but also contains carbon-rich dust, which comprises the blue regions of the nebula and reflects the light of AE Aurigae.

AE Aurigae, the central star in the Flaming Star Nebula, is blue O-type main sequence dwarf, a hot star emitting so much light that it knock away electrons from the gas that surrounds it. As a result, the surrounding nebula glows red.

ic 405,ae aurigae,flaming star nebula,ic 410

Nebulae IC 405, IC 410, and IC 417 in the constellation Auriga. Near the lower left corner, open clusters Messier 38 and NGC 1907 are easily identifiable. By using the notes, denominations have been added to the brighter stars. Image: Giuseppe Donatiello (CC0 1.0)