Rose for Valentine's Day
February 14, 2004
A cluster of newborn stars herald their birth in this interstellar Valentine's Day commemorative picture obtained with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. These bright young stars are found in a rosebud-shaped (and rose-colored) nebulosity known as NGC 7129. The star cluster and its associated nebula are located at a distance of 3300 light-years in the constellation Cepheus. A recent census of the cluster reveals the presence of 130 young stars. The stars formed from a massive cloud of gas and dust that contains enough raw materials to create a thousand Sun-like stars. In a process that astronomers still poorly understand, fragments of this molecular cloud became so cold and dense that they collapsed into stars. Most stars in our Milky Way galaxy are thought to form in such clusters.
Topics: Cepheus constellation, Reflection nebulae, NGC, Rosette Nebula, Star cluster, Open clusters, Star, Orion Nebula, Galaxy, Milky Way