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A new striking image from the infrared telescope shows a vibrant cloud called the Trifid Nebula dotted with glowing stellar "incubators." Tucked deep inside these incubators are rapidly growing embryonic stars, whose warmth Spitzer was able to see for the first time with its powerful heat-seeking eyes.

The new view offers a rare glimpse at the earliest stages of massive star formation -- a time when developing stars are about to burst into existence.

"With Spitzer, it's like having an ultrasound for stars," said Spitzer scientist Dr. Jeonghee Rho. "W
e can see into dust cocoons and visualize how many embryos are in each of them."

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/J. Rho (SSC/Caltech)


The striking picture, taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, reveals an eclectic mix of embryonic stars living in the tattered neighborhood of one of the most famous massive stars in our Milky Way galaxy, Eta Carinae. Astronomers say that radiation and winds from Eta Carinae and its massive siblings ripped apart the surrounding cloud of gas and dust, shocking the new stars into being.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/N. Smith (Univ. of Colorado at Boulder)

Eagle's Pillar

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A detail of the Eagle Nebula shows a portion of a pillar of gas and dust in this photo from the Hubble Space Telescope. Light from nearby bright, hot, young stars is sculpting the cloud into intricate forms and causing the gas to glow.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Young stars, like toddlers, want to start showing their independence. This Spitzer view shows a stellar version of the "terrible twos" -- the stars are beginning to move away from their formative cloud, seen in red and green. Jets can be seen coming off the young stars as they make their way into the cosmos.

Located 1,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Perseus, the reflection nebula NGC 1333 epitomizes the beautiful chaos of a dense group of stars being born.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. A. Gutermuth (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)


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