Nestled amongst the vast clouds of star-forming regions like this one lie potential clues about the formation of our own Solar System.
This week’s NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope Picture of the Week features AFGL 5180, a beautiful stellar nursery located in the constellation of Gemini (The Twins).
At the center of the image, a massive star is forming and blasting cavities through the clouds with a pair of powerful jets, extending to the top right and bottom left of the image. Light from this star is mostly escaping and reaching us by illuminating these cavities, like a lighthouse piercing through the storm clouds.
Stars are born in dusty environments and although this dust makes for spectacular images, it can prevent astronomers from seeing stars embedded in it. Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) instrument is designed to capture detailed images in both visible and infrared light, meaning that the young stars hidden in vast star-forming regions like AFGL 5180 can be seen much more clearly.