Like a hot-headed teenager, the star AE Aurigae is racing away from its birthplace after getting into a "fight" with its neighbors, as seen in a new picture from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, released Tuesday.
According to NASA, AE Aurigae was likely born in the Trapezium star cluster in the constellation Orion. At the time the star had a partner, making a binary pair with the star Mu Columbae. But about 2.5 million years ago, the pair collided with another set of binary stars, and the tussle sent AE Aurigae and Mu Columbae hurtling in opposite directions.
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AE Aurigae is currently part of a relatively cool nebula that glows with only reflected light. But the star appears to be on fire, because the body's radiation is stripping electrons from a pocket of surrounding gas and heating nearby dust, causing the cloud to glow with its own emitted light.