The red and purple colors of IC 405 are created by different processes. The bright star AE Aurigae, visible in the center of the image, is a hot, massive blue star, emitting light which is reflected from fine particles of dust which then scatter the shorter wavelengths generating the blue color we see. The red light is emitted from excited hydrogen, energized by ultraviolet radiation from AE Aurigae. The two regions are referred to as reflection and emission nebula, respectively. Pictured above, the Flaming Star Nebula, officially known as IC 405, lies about 1500 light years distant, spans about 5 light years, and is visible with a small telescope toward the constellation of Auriga.

Image and text copyright © Robert Gendler. All rights reserved.

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