Baby Stars Spied Throbbing Inside Orion: Big Pic
March 1, 2012 — Looking like a blinding battle between opposing cosmic forces, this dazzling image shows a region of the Orion nebula as seen by NASA’s Spitzer and the European Space Agency’s Herschel space telescopes. The colors represent different wavelengths of infrared light emitted by infant stars as they heat up and cool down over the course of their energetic development.
As the embryonic stars — seen here as a spray of bright points — mature into stellar adulthood, they undergo rapid temperature fluctuations which are observed by Spitzer and Herschel. The protostars have been seen to vary in brightness by as much as 20 percent over the course of mere weeks.
The variations may be due to the absorption of material from the clouds of gas and dust that envelop them. Eventually they will accrue enough material to spark fusion at their cores, flaring into full-fledged stardom.
By combining the specialized abilities of each telescope scientists are able to gain a more complete understanding of the process of star formation.
— by Jason Major.