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Image captured of 'stellar 'nursery'

May 10, 2012 at 8:19 PM   |   Comments

PARIS, May 10 (UPI) -- A European space observatory has imaged a star "nursery" and its network of dust and gas, which is creating a new generation of massive stars, scientists say.

The European Space Agency's Herschel space observatory took the infrared image of Cygnus-X, an extremely active region of star birth about 4,500 light years from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus, the Swan.

In the image, astronomers can see regions where dust has been gently heated by stars, and dense clumps of gas where new generations of stars are forming, the ESA reported from its Paris headquarters Thursday.

Bright white areas highlight zones where large stars have recently formed out of turbulent clouds of dust and gas, carving out bubble-like structures with their immense radiation, astronomers said.

Herschel's infrared capability can probe the birth of large stars and their influence on the surrounding interstellar material with a level of detail never before available, astronomers said.

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