DR. IAN GATLEY / NOAO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR. IAN GATLEY / NOAO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Stellar formation nebula. Infrared image of the nebula NGC 2024 in the constellation of Orion, where new stars are forming (orange at centre). Here interstellar clouds composed of hydrogen & dust grains are fragmenting to produce protostar systems. The temperature of the clouds is about 100 Kelvin which gives a detectable emission in the infrared band. The same region in the optical band appears black because the dust absorbs this radiation. Starbirth is a slow process (about 10 million years) & in a galaxy about 10 stars like the Sun are born every year.
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