In visible light (top left), a cloud of dust and gas in the constellation Cygnus looks a bit like a map of North America. Now, infrared views of the region from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (bottom left and right) show the bustle of star birth happening in the North American nebula.
The new images reveal stars in the nebula at various stages of life, from stellar "embryos" wrapped in natal dust to young "parents" with budding planetary systems. Scientists studying the pictures have also found more than 2,000 points of light—most likely never before seen stars.
Space Pictures This Week: Black Hole Ring, Moon Pit, More
Black hole "jewels" adorn a galactic ring, the sun aims a particle stream at Earth, and more in the week's best space pictures.