Bow Shocks in Space G054.32
Sig16 002

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Wyoming

Observation • January 5th, 2016 • sig16-002


Bow shocks thought to mark the paths of massive, speeding stars are highlighted in this image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

Cosmic bow shocks occur when massive stars zip through space, pushing material ahead of them in the same way that water piles up in front of a race boat. The stars also produce high-speed winds that smack into this compressed material. The end result is pile-up of heated material that glows in infrared light. In these images, infrared light has been assigned the colored red.

Green shows wispy dust in the region and blue shows stars.

The speeding stars thought to be creating the bow shocks can be seen at the center of each arc-shaped feature. All the speeding stars are massive, ranging from about 8 to 30 times the mass of our sun.

About the Object


Color Mapping

Band Wavelength Telescope
Infrared 3.6 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 8.0 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 24.0 µm Spitzer MIPS


Position ()
RA =3h 38m 0.0s
Dec = 0° 45' 0.0"
Field of View
7.0 x 7.0 arcminutes
North is up