Click to see a larger image (Stephen Byrne)


This stunning image was processed using data interred in the Hubble Legacy Archive; showing an intricate canvas painted by a Cepheid-type variable star.


The star is known as RR Puppis, which can be seen located smack dab in the center of the region. Not only is the star in question one of the most well-studied stars located in our galaxy (it can be found about 6,500 light-years from Earth), but it also has quite a bit of scientific significance, as Cepheid variable stars are very important in helping astronomers determine the distance of nearby galaxies from Earth.


To put it simply, variable stars are stars that change in brightness. Sometimes there are changes in the star's luminosity, mass, or otherwise obstructions in the photon's path as it makes its way towards Earth. These changes in luminosity can take place over an extended span of time or, in some cases, a fraction of a second. More than 100,000 stars are currently known and cataloged as variable stars, some can range from one-thousandth of a magnitude to twenty magnitudes, which are quite surprising numbers! Our own sun is a variable star. Its energy output varies over an 11-year solar cycle, sometimes by approximately 0.1 percent or to one-thousandth of its average magnitude.


The detailed environment of the star comes from a reflection nebulae; when rays of light from the star come in contact with dense grains of interstellar dust - they scatter; thus producing the haunting glow seen here.

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