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

This fantastic nebula is Sharpless 239, also known as Sh2-239 or LBN 821, which is located some 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Perseus.

The nebula, which is classified as a reflection nebula, is situated in the Taurus molecular cloud and stretches a full 3 light-years across. Overall, the area is home to some 50 solar masses of star-formation material, bringing about starburst phase, which will see the birth of at least a dozen Sun-like stars.

You can see several of these proto-stars forming, with the primary binary system—known as L1551 IRS 5 (which is responsible for the nebula's appearance)—hanging out toward the center. These newborn stars are located a mere 40 AU from one another, with both being heavy emitters of ionized hydrogen molecules.


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