Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 13:20 EDT
2a Milky Ways Quintuple Star Cluster - SOFIA  FORCAST
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2a. Milky Way's Quintuple Star Cluster - SOFIA / FORCAST

January 14, 2013
SOFIA/FORCAST mid-infrared image of a region including the Quintuple Cluster (QC), a group of young stars near the left margin of the frame, located about 35 parsecs (100 light years) from the galaxy’s nucleus. The compact bright objects rendered white and blue in this image are dust cloud “cocoons” heated from within by the highest-luminosity stars in the cluster to temperatures that make them prominent at mid-infrared wavelengths. Other features in this image are interstellar clouds of gas and dust. The large rounded oblong feature below the QC is an expanding cloud of debris produced by violent ejections of material from a massive star nearing the end of its life. NASA/SOFIA/Hankins et al. 2013