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Location of Photo:

Julian, CA

Date/Time of photo:

August 5,6,7 2021


Planewave CDK24, L600.


NGC 7538 is a stellar nursery for massive stars. Located around 9,000 light-years away, this is one of the few regions of massive-star formation that are relatively close to us, allowing astronomers to investigate this process in great detail. Star factories like NGC 7538 consist mainly of hydrogen gas, but they also contain small amounts of cosmic dust. It was through this minor – but crucial – component that Herschel could image these star-forming regions, because dust shines brightly at the far-infrared wavelengths that were probed by the observatory. With a total mass of almost 400,000 Suns, NGC 7538 is an active factory where stars come to life – especially huge ones that are over eight times more massive than the Sun. Hundreds of seeds of future stellar generations nestle in the mixture of surrounding gas and dust scattered across the image. Once they reach a critical mass, they will ignite as stars. Thirteen of these proto-stars have masses greater than 40 Suns, and are also extremely cold, with temperatures only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero.