'Space butterfly' is home to hundreds of baby stars

What looks like a red butterfly in space is in reality a nursery for hundreds of baby stars, revealed in this infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Officially named Westerhout 40 (W40), the butterfly is a nebula—a ...

Image: Herschel's view of the galactic centre

An odd-shaped formation of gas and dust at the centre of the Milky Way, captured by the far-infrared cameras on board ESA's Herschel space observatory. The nearly continuous strip of dense and cold clumps of material forms ...

Image: Reflection nebula NGC 1999

This spooky sight, imaged by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, resembles fog lit by a streetlamp swirling around a curiously shaped hole – and there is some truth in that. While the 'fog' is dust and gas lit up by the ...

Magnetic fields in massive star formation cores

Studies of molecular clouds have revealed that star formation usually occurs in a two-step process. First, supersonic flows compress the clouds into dense filaments light-years long, after which gravity collapses the densest ...

First look at gravitational dance that drives stellar formation

Swirling motions in clouds of cold, dense gas have given, for the first time, an active insight into how gravity creates the compact cores from which stars form in the interstellar medium. The results will be presented today, ...

What is the weather like on Venus?

Venus is often called Earth's "Sister Planet" because of all the things they have in common. They are comparable in size, have similar compositions, and both orbit within the Sun's habitable zone. But beyond that, there are ...

The Milky Way's central molecular zone

The center of our Milky Way galaxy lies about 27,000 light-years away in the direction of the constellation of Sagittarius. At its core is a black hole about four million solar masses in size. Around the black hole is a donut-shaped ...

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