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ScienceShot: Cradles in a Stellar Nursery

10 January 2012 3:52 pm
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NASA/JPL/ESA

AUSTIN, TEXAS—A stellar birth explosion is taking place in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small companion galaxy of our own Milky Way. The cold, dark clouds of dust that hatch the new stars are invisible at optical wavelengths, but they glow brightly in the infrared. This image, presented here today at the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, combines observations of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory. Intricate ripples reveal regions where the dust is denser than average—the cradles in the nursery. While Spitzer sees dust at room temperature (blue and white), Herschel's cameras catch the longer-wavelength glow of much colder dust (red and green). The bright area left of center is the 30 Doradus cluster, which is home to some of the hottest and brightest stars known in the Universe.

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