'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: 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, ...

The lifetimes of massive star-forming regions

Astronomers can roughly estimate how long it takes for a new star to form: it is the time it takes for material in a gas cloud to collapse in free-fall, and is set by the mass, the size of the cloud, and gravity. Although ...

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