Deep Sky

Alnitak

Here are three images of the Flame nebula, they all have one thing in common and that is the bright star associated with the nebula.  Alnitak.  Lets take a closer look at this star(s).  It is the Eastern most star in the Orion's belt.  Alnitak, an Arabic word 'the girdle', and as you might have guessed, has been a familiar star since man has looked into the heavens.  This blue super giant is not only a class O star, but is the brightest class O in the night sky - a visual magnitude of +2.0.  Looks are deceiving, instead of one star we know it as a triple star system.  Alnitak A, the one we see when we look at Orion, is almost 33 times more massive as our sun.  As a blue, Alnitak is some 21,000 times brighter than our star.  Its surface brightness is 500 times brighter.  No wonder it lights up the flame nebula!
So the next time you look at the hunter, so a little more respect for Alnitak and her sisters, Alnilam and Mintaka.