What’s that eerie glow down the highway? A still from ‘Stranger Things’? No, it’s dust orbiting the sun. To wit:
At certain times of the year, a band of sun-reflecting dust from the inner Solar System appears prominently just after sunset — or just before sunrise — and is called zodiacal light. Although the origin of this dust is still being researched, a leading hypothesis holds that zodiacal dust originates mostly from faint Jupiter-family comets and slowly spirals into the Sun. Recent analysis of dust emitted by Comet 67P, visited by ESA’s roboticRosetta spacecraft, bolster this hypothesis. Pictured when climbing a road up to Teide National Park in the Canary Islands of Spain, a bright triangle of zodiacal light appeared in the distance soon after sunset. Captured on June 21, the scene includes bright Regulus, alpha star of Leo, standing above center toward the left. The Beehive Star Cluster (M44) can be spotted below center, closer to the horizon and also immersed in the zodiacal glow.
Behold: NGC 6302, also known as the ‘bug’ or ‘butterfly nebula’ – a vast planetary dust cloud with a dying central star 4,000 light years from Earth in the Scorpion Constellation. This enhancement is based on an especially sharp image recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009. to wit:
Cutting across a bright cavity of ionized gas, the dust torus surrounding the central star is near the center of this view, almost edge-on to the line-of-sight. Molecular hydrogenhas been detected in the hot star’s dusty cosmic shroud.