The exquisite constellation Lyra is home to one of the brightest stars in
the Northern hemisphere. Vega is a magnitude 0 white main sequence star
with a surface temperature of 9,600 degrees Kelvin. Its name derives from
an Arabic phrase "the swooping eagle". Vega is relatively close to us,
with a distance of just 25 light years.
Vega is one of the first stars to be discovered with a large luminous halo formed by a cloud of warm dust. As Vega seems to be rotating with its pole directed towards Earth, the dust cloud probably represents a face-on disk that may contain planets, in a similar fashion to our own Solar System. No planets have so far been detected, though.
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The bright star's impressive diffraction spikes were generated by placing a
couple of thin rods in front on the scope during exposure. Normally
these spikes are an artefact of some telescope designs which use spider
vanes to hold the secondary mirror in place.