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Celestial Album
The nearby Milky Way galaxy in cold dust.


The nearby Milky Way galaxy in cold dust. This remarkable dust tapestry was resolved in detail in a wide region of the sky imaged in far-infrared light -- the image is a digital fusion of three infrared colors. Red corresponds to temperatures as cold as 10 degrees Kelvin, while white corresponds to gas as warm at 40 Kelvins. The pink band across the lower part of the image is warm gas confined to the plane of our galaxy. The bright regions typically hold dense molecular clouds that are slowly collapsing to form stars, whereas the dimmer regions are most usually diffuse interstellar gas and dust. Why these regions have intricate filamentary shapes shared on both large and small scales remains a topic of research. Future study of the origin and evolution of dust may help in the understanding the recent history of our galaxy as well as how planetary systems such as our solar system came to be born. Credit: ESA, Planck HFI Consortium, IRAS

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