This Speeding Star Made Something Beautiful

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has captured an infrared image of a red arch that happens to be a giant shock wave produced by a speeding star called Kappa Cassiopeiae (HD 2905), which moves at 2.5 million miles per hour. According to a description of the phenomenon from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the red color represents a bow shock, which forms when “the magnetic fields and wind of particles flowing off a star collide with the diffuse, and usually invisible, gas and dust that fill the space between stars. How these shocks light up tells astronomers about the conditions around the star and in space.”