Image Credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

This spectacularly beautiful star forming region goes by many names: Westerhout 5 (W5), Sharpless 2-199, or, most famously, the Soul Nebula. Regardless of what you call it, it can be found around 2,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cassiopeia.

In an image captured by Adam Block of the Mount Lemmon Sky Center (in Arizona)—which he calls , "IC 1848: The Divide of Heart and Soul"—we look at the "bridge" that connects the Heart and the Soul Nebulae.

Many of the stars within the nebulae—and there are many, both large and small, that thrive within the larger complex—are newly-forged, but astronomers have long noted that perplexingly, most of the older generations of stars reside in the nebula’s central region, whilst younger generations flock to the edge. Researchers posit that the older stars might be the driving force behind the formation of the new ones, in that they force the gravitational contraction of gas that proceeds star birth. (See a larger image here)

 


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