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Striking image of stellar nursery captured

Jan. 16, 2013 at 3:16 PM

MUNICH, Germany, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- European astronomers say they have captured the best-ever image of a stellar nursery, a dark cosmic cloud where new stars are forming.

The picture of the cloud, known as Lupus 3 and located 600 light-years from Earth, was taken with a telescope at the European Southern Observatory's La Silla facility in Chile and is the best image ever taken in visible light of the little-known object, a release from the ESO's Munich headquarters said.

The image reveals both a dark column resembling a cloud of smoke and a small group of brilliant stars that have emerged from the dusty stellar nursery, one of the closest to the sun.

It is likely the sun formed in a similar star formation region more than 4 billion years ago, astronomers said. The stars in the image of Lupus E are probably less than 1 million years old, they said.

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