Behold: the interstellar bow wave of runaway’ star Zeta Ophiuchi, seen here in infrared. To wit:

In the false-colour view, bluish Zeta Oph, a star about 20 times more massive than the Sun, lies near the centre of the frame, moving toward the left at 24 kilometres per second. Its strong stellar wind precedes it, compressing and heating the dusty interstellar material and shaping the curved shock front. What set this star in motion? Zeta Oph was likely once a member of a binary star system, its companion star was more massive and hence shorter lived. When the companion exploded as a supernova catastrophically losing mass, 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. The image spans about 1.5 degrees or 12 light-years at the estimated distance of Zeta Ophiuchi. Last week, NASA placed the Spitzer Space Telescope in safe mode, ending its 16 successful years of studying our universe.

(Image: NASA, JPL-Caltech, Spitzer Space Telescope)

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