Bright Young Things
Billowing from the fiery forge at the heart of the Orion Nebula, young stars (shown in red) flee from the more massive ones at the heart of the stellar nursery, revealed in this view from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope released on January 15.
Spanning some 40 light-years, the infrared image of the nebula is filled with these early "protostars." Astronomers study these youngsters to see how stars such as our own sun were born. (See more nebula pictures.)
One of the red dots along the filaments streaming to the left of the nebula's heart, for example, is a recently discovered protostar, HOPS 68. It is surrounded by sandy dust, future planet-making materials to build worlds around the star.