The Sciences

Star Breeding Grounds

In the right circumstances, humble gas and dust can form into powerful, majestic stars.

Courtesy of NASA/JPL Caltech/WISE Team

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

Vast clouds of star-forming gas and dust burst into view in this image of the constellations Cassiopeia and Cepheus, taken by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer satellite, or WISE. Space-based infrared telescopes like WISE allow astronomers to see past the hot, bright stars that dominate visible-light images and probe the subtle, cold regions of gas and dust where stars are born. The most frigid stuff, which can be –280 degrees Fahrenheit, appears red here; warmer objects look bluer. Prolific stellar nurseries, marked by gray and white clouds surrounding red stars, are located at the top left and top right of the image. WISE scanned the whole sky 1.5 times before running out of coolant in February 2011, but the data it beamed back continues to reveal our galaxy’s hidden spawning grounds. “WISE is not the greatest telescope ever built,” says astrophysicist Xavier Koenig of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, “but it lets you see everything.”

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month
Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
1 free articleSubscribe
Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.