Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2000 November 28
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BZ Cam Bow Shock
Credit: R. Casalegno, C. Conselice et al., WIYN, NOAO, MURST, NSF

Explanation: BZ Cam is a binary star system that is not well understood. In most cataclysmic variables, matter from a normal star accumulates on the surface of the companion white dwarf star, eventually causing a nova-like flare as the material becomes hot enough to ignite nuclear fusion. In BZ Cam, however, light appears to flicker unpredictably, and an unusually large wind of particles is being expelled. Pictured above, BZ Cam's wind creates a large bow-shock as the system moves through surrounding interstellar gas. BZ Cam lies about 2500 light-years away toward the constellation of Camelopardalis.

Tomorrow's picture: Leonids from Orbit

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