Observation • January 5th, 2016 • sig16-003
Bow shocks thought to mark the paths of massive, speeding stars are highlighted in this image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.
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. This image actually consists of two bow shocks and two speeding stars. All the speeding stars are massive, ranging from about 8 to 30 times the mass of our sun.
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