Image Credit: Credit: NASA JPL-Caltech, Harvard-Smithsonian CfA

Meet the Rho Ophiuchi Cloud, a celestial star-forming region that lurks about 400 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Ophiuchus

This area belongs to the larger Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex, which spans an entire 5 light-years in totality. As you can see, the region is currently undergoing swift changes, which include giving birth to some 300 stars. Said stars are estimated to be merely 300,000 years old, which makes them young compared to our middle-aged Sun, but much more energetic.

If you could get close enough to the area to take a good gander at it, it would not look like this. This image is false-colored, as seen using the on-board tools belonging to the Spitzer Space Telescope (an observatory that specializes in capturing light at infrared wavelengths). The different colors correspond to the age and temperatures of the stars embedded in the nebula.

See a larger image here.

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