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January 4, 2013
This infrared image of the heart of the Orion star-formation complex was taken from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) using the FORCAST mid-infrared camera (P.I. Terry Herter, Cornell University). SOFIA is optimized for observations at infrared wavelengths that cannot be accessed by any telescope on the ground or currently in space. This image, a two-filter composite (20 microns – green, 37 microns – red), reveals detailed structures in the clouds of star forming material, as well as heat radiating from a cluster of luminous newborn stars seen in the upper right. This young stellar cluster was originally identified in 1967 by Eric Becklin and others. Becklin, SOFIA’s Chief Science Advisor, was on the initial science flight that continued the studies of these objects. November 2010 NASA/SOFIA/USRA/FORCAST Team