JON LOMBERG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JON LOMBERG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Variable star and disk. Artwork of the young star at the tip of McNeil's Nebula. Surrounding the star is a protoplanetary disk. McNeil's Nebula is a variable nebula that was discovered in January 2004. It is variable because the young star at its tip varies in brightness. Here, the star is in an active phase and material from the disk is falling onto the star, causing an increase in brightness. The infalling material is following the lines of the star's magnetic field. Sunspots are also seen (black). The surrounding nebula (not shown) was discovered because of this increase in brightness, seen in images R670/184-187. The star is some 1500 light years from Earth in the constellation Orion.
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