|Dust clouds and embedded newborn stars glow
at infrared wavelengths
in this tantalizing false-color composition from WISE, the
Infrared Survey Explorer.
The cosmic canvas features
one of the closest star forming regions, part of the Rho Ophiuchi
cloud complex some 400 light-years distant
near the southern edge of the
After forming along a
large cloud of cold molecular
hydrogen gas, young stars heat the surrounding
dust to produce the infrared glow.
Stars in the process of formation, called young stellar
objects or YSOs, are embedded in the
compact pinkish nebulae seen here,
but are otherwise hidden from the prying eyes of optical
of the region in penetrating infrared light has detected
emerging and newly formed stars whose average age
is estimated to be a mere 300,000 years.
That's extremely young compared to the
of 5 billion years.
The prominent reddish nebula at the lower right surrounding
the star Sigma Scorpii
is a reflection nebula produced by dust scattering starlight.
This view from WISE
almost 2 degrees and covers about 14
light-years at the estimated distance of the Rho Ophiuchi cloud.