<p>A group of hot young stars, to borrow a phrase from the European Southern Observatory, is seen in infrared from 16 quadrillion miles (26 quadrillion kilometers, or 2,700 light-years) away. Pictured lighting up nearby clouds of dust, the stars are part of the <a id="iirc" title="stellar nursery" href="http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/photos/origins-universe-gallery/">stellar nursery</a> Monoceros R2—itself a part of the <a id="xxvm" title="Monoceros" href="http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/news/breakingorbit/2010/08/unicorns-roses-and-star-bellso.html">Monoceros</a>, or unicorn, constellation.</p><p>Released Tuesday, the image was made in several exposures by the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (<a id="ii_d" title="VISTA" href="http://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/surveytelescopes/vista.html">VISTA</a>) at the ESO's Paranal Observatory. As a survey telescope, VISTA repeatedly scans the universe to find new objects of interest as well as to spot any changes over time in faraway stars.</p><p>(<a id="e4bf" title="Read more about a &quot;super-Earth&quot; found in the Monoceros constellation." href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/02/100205-new-type-planet-corot-7b-io/">Read more about a "super-Earth" found in the Monoceros constellation.</a>)</p>

Unicorn's Stellar Nursery

A group of hot young stars, to borrow a phrase from the European Southern Observatory, is seen in infrared from 16 quadrillion miles (26 quadrillion kilometers, or 2,700 light-years) away. Pictured lighting up nearby clouds of dust, the stars are part of the stellar nursery Monoceros R2—itself a part of the Monoceros, or unicorn, constellation.

Released Tuesday, the image was made in several exposures by the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) at the ESO's Paranal Observatory. As a survey telescope, VISTA repeatedly scans the universe to find new objects of interest as well as to spot any changes over time in faraway stars.

(Read more about a "super-Earth" found in the Monoceros constellation.)

Image courtesy J. Emerson, VISTA/ESO

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