Stars and their planets
are born in cold, dark, interstellar
clouds of gas and dust.
While exploring the clouds at
astronomers have made a surprising discovery -- dozens of cases
where dense cloud cores shine by reflecting
Based on archival
Spitzer Space Telescope
data, these panels illustrate the newly described phenomenon,
known as coreshine.
At longer infrared wavelengths (right) the core of
cloud Lynds 183
is dark, but at shorter infrared wavelengths
(left) the core clearly shines,
from nearby stars.
As seen in these panels, the elongated core covers a mere 1.5 light-years.
The scattering requires dust grains that are about 10 times
larger than previously thought to exist in the clouds,
about 1 micron in size instead of 0.1 micron.
For comparison, a human hair is about 100 microns thick.
The larger dust grains indicated by coreshine could
change models of the early phases of star and planet formation,
a still mysterious process hidden
within the interstellar clouds.
Dark nebula Lynds 183 lies around
325 light-years away in the constellation Serpens.
Laurent Pagani (Obs.Paris/CNRS),
Jurgen Steinacker (Obs. Paris/MPIA)