Featured Image: A Search for Stellar Bow Shock Nebulae


These dynamic infrared images (click for the full view!) reveal what are known as “bow shock nebulae” — nebulae that form at the interface between the interstellar medium and the stellar wind from a high-speed star zipping through the galaxy (the arrows show the direction of motion of the star). When the relative speed between the two is supersonic, an arc-shaped bow shock forms ahead of the star, like the six prototypical ones pictured here. A team of scientists led by Henry Kobulnicky (University of Wyoming) has recently searched through survey data from the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Wide Field Infrared Explorer (WISE) to build a catalog of more than 700 such bow-shock nebula candidates, the vast majority of which are new discoveries. To find out more about their sample, check out the paper below!


Henry A. Kobulnicky et al 2016 ApJS 227 18. doi:10.3847/0067-0049/227/2/18