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Astronomy Picture of the Day

Visit the NASA/JPL website to view more Astronomy Pictures of the Day [1]


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The North America Nebula in Infrared
Credit: NASA [3]JPL-Caltech [4]L. Rebull [5] (SSC, Caltech [6]);  DSS [7], D. De Martin

Explanation: The North America Nebula can do what most North Americans cannot — form stars. Precisely where in the nebula [8] these stars are forming has been mostly obscured by some of the nebula’s thick dust that is opaque to visible light. However, a new view [9] of theNorth America Nebula [10] in infrared light [11] by the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope [12] has peered through [13] much of the dust and uncovered thousands of newly formed stars.  The new infrared image [14] neatly captures young stars in many stages of formation, from being imbedded in dense knots of gas and dust [15], to being surrounded by disks [16] and emitted jets [17], to being clear [18] of their birth cocoons. The North America Nebula [19] (NGC 7000 [10]) spans about 50 light years [20] and lies about 1,500 light years away toward the constellation [21] of the Swan (Cygnus [22]). Still, of all the stars known in the North America Nebula, which massive stars emit the energetic light that gives the ionized red glow [23] is still debated [24].