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Fire in Space Called "Polaris Flare" Captured by ESA Planck Satellite

Aug 24, 2016 04:57 AM EDT
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The European Space Agency (ESA) and its Planck Satellite captured a rare celestial "sprite-like" celestial flame considered "ethereal" and "fantastical" called the Polaris Flame.

The unique features were from the Polaris Flare that shows a sprite-like figure originating from flames. But experts say that the image taken of the Polaris Flare is not an actual fire or flare but a fiery illusion. The illusion comes from the Ursa Minor constellation (The Little Bear) that emits 10 light-year wide filaments from 500 light-years away.

Polaris Flare can be found in the North Celestial Pole, a region in the sky believed to the point of Earth's spin axis. This part is where experts look for in order to study the Earth's axis. To find the North Celestial Pole where the Polaris Flare is, observers need to locate the North Star also known as the Pole Star.

ESA has been studying the Polaris Flare for a long time since ESA Herschel pointed its attention to the dusty filaments in Ursa Minor. With the data gathered by Herschel and computer simulations, scientists were able to conclude that the Polaris Flare could have originated from shockwaves forcing their way through a dense stellar cloud made up of cold cosmic gas and dust between different stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

The image showing what looks like cosmic flares aren't directly representative of the Polaris Flare's true color nor a full artist impression of the Polaris flare but a combination of ESA's Planck satellite observation from the year 2009 to 2013. To produce the image, the satellite scanned and mapped the sky and the Milky Way galaxy to capture ancient light and cosmic dust. The final product, as ESA puts it, is a magnetic map of the sky.

"The relief lines laced across this image show the average direction of our Galaxy's magnetic field in the region containing the Polaris Flare," an ESA official said in a press release. The flare also shows the direction of the magnetic field of the Milky Way galaxy, according to a report by Mashable.

Reports say that ESA's Planck satellite was searching for ancient cosmic light including the remnants of the Big Bang billions of years ago.

 

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