New stars are born! NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured a new image of bright, baby stars peeking out of a "stellar nursery" — a cloud of dust where stars are born.
This spectacular stellar nursery lies in the constellation of Gemini, NASA said in a statement. Officially called AFGL 5180, the nursery is one of many star-forming regions, which have the right density of dust and gas for that material to eventually collapse in on itself and form a star.
Although the surrounding dust "makes for a spectacular image," according to NASA, it also obscures new star growth from astronomers.
In the new image, released on Aug. 13, a massive star is forming in the middle and making it possible to see through the clouds, thanks to its stellar light. The beams of light illuminate cavities in the dust clouds.
"Light from this star is mostly escaping and reaching us by illuminating these cavities, like a lighthouse piercing through the storm clouds," NASA said.
Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) was specifically designed to capture images like this one, because it can detect both visible and infrared light. Thanks to Hubble, astronomers can now see young stars much more clearly. Scientists hope that understanding star formation will teach us more about our own solar system.
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Kasandra Brabaw is a freelance science writer who covers space, health, and psychology. She's been writing for Space.com since 2014, covering NASA events, sci-fi entertainment, and space news. In addition to Space.com, Kasandra has written for Prevention, Women's Health, SELF, and other health publications. She has also worked with academics to edit books written for popular audiences.