Space Telescope Sees ‘Mountains of Creation’ [Space.com]
Giant clouds of gas and dust harboring embryonic stars rise majestically into space in a new picture from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.
The image, dubbed the Mountains of Creation by astronomers, reveals hotbeds of star formation similar to the iconic Pillars of Creation within the Eagle Nebula, photographed in 1995 by the Hubble Space Telescope. In both cases, the finger-like features are cool clouds of gas and dust that have been sculpted by radiation and fast-moving winds of charged particles from hot, massive stars.
Spitzer records heat, or infrared light, which penetrates the dusty clouds and allows a view of the star birth inside. In the largest finger, hundreds of embryonic stars not seen before are revealed. Dozens of stars-to-be are visible in one of the other fingers.
The Spitzer image shows the eastern edge of a region known as W5, in the Cassiopeia constellation 7,000 light-years away. A massive star outside the frame lights the scene.