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Zeta Ophiuchi, a star 20 times bigger than the sun
Zeta Ophiuchi, a Star 20 Times Bigger than the Sun
January 28, 2011

Zeta Ophiuchi, a star 20 times bigger than the sunIt may not look like much, but the blue spot near the centre of this image is Zeta Ophiuchi, a hot star 20 times larger than the sun.
Ploughing its way through a large cloud of interstellar dust and gas, when seen in visible light it appears as a relatively dim red star surrounded by other dim stars and no dust.

Zeta Ophiuchi, a Star 20 Times Bigger than the Sun

A hot star 20 times larger than the Sun, Zeta Ophiuchi is the blue spot in the centre of this image taken with Nasa's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer

However, in this image taken with Nasa’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer – or WISE – a completely different view emerges. On the edges of the image and in the background are relatively calm clouds of dust, appearing green and wispy, slightly reminiscent of the northern lights.
Near Zeta Ophiuchi itself, these clouds look quite different, appearing brighter and redder. The extreme amounts of ultraviolet radiation emitted by the star are heating the cloud, causing it to glow more brightly in the infrared than usual.

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