A new, large mosaic from NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) showcases a vast stretch of cosmic clouds bubbling with new star birth. The region -- a 1,000-square-degree chunk of our Milky Way galaxy -- is home to numerous star-forming clouds, where massive stars have blown out bubbles in the gas and dust.
"Massive stars sweep up and destroy their natal clouds, but they continuously spark new stars to form along the way," said WISE Mission Scientist Dave Leisawitz of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Leisawitz is co-author of a new paper reporting the results in the Astrophysical Journal. "Occasionally a new, massive star forms, perpetuating the sequence of events and giving rise to the dazzling fireworks display seen in this WISE mosaic."
The WISE space telescope mapped the entire sky two times in infrared light, completing its survey in February of 2011. Astronomers studying how stars form took advantage of WISE's all-encompassing view by studying several star-forming clouds, or nebulae, including 10 pictured in this new view.