Inside the Flame Nebula

Just 1,400 light-years away, among all the dust of a crowded star forming region, is the Flame Nebula. NASA released this image on Saturday, and explains on its site how the Chandra Observatory and Spitzer Space Telescope can "take you inside the glowing gas and obscuring dust clouds" of the region to see the dazzling Flame Nebula, full of stars that range in age of 200,000 to 1.5 million years old.


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The X-ray/infrared composite image overlay spans about 15 light-years across the Flame's center. The X-ray/infrared data also indicate that the youngest stars are concentrated near the middle of the Flame Nebula cluster. That's the opposite of the simplest models of star formation for the stellar nursery that predict star formation begins in the denser center of a molecular cloud core. The result requires a more complex model; perhaps star formation continues longer in the center, or older stars are ejected from the center due to subcluster mergers.

Image credit: NASA

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