Flaming Star Nebula (IC 405) -- Nebula in Auriga
A Runaway Star and the Flaming Star Nebula
On the northwestern edge of the Flying Minnow Asterism is the Flaming Star Nebula (IC 405).
It is a mix of emission and reflection nebulae, of which the full extent can only be seen in
photographs. Still the brightest regions of the nebula can be made out visually. The nebula
is mostly of reflected light, but enough emissions from the nebula proper allows some degree
of enhancement by using a nebula filter. On a good night using the 6-inch refractor, without a
nebula filter, I can spot the nebula even from my suburban backyard.
The star AE Aurigae is a variable and shines from magnitude 5.8 to 6.1. AE Aurigae is a
visitor to the nebula and is currently the source of energy for both the reflected and emission
parts of the nebula. Without AE Aurigae the nebula would be invisible. This star is a “runaway”
that originated in the Orion Nebula and is currently racing through the nebula. It will leave the
nebula in another 20,000 years or so. Think of it as a sibling of the Orion Nebula’s Trapezium
stars that has traveled a long way just so the IC 405 nebula can be observed by amateur