Universe

Star dust in Perseus. Astronomical digital images

Star dust in Perseus. Astronomical digital images

The image includes a large cosmic expanse of dust, gas and stars that covers almost 3 degrees of sky in the constellation Perseus. To the right of the center of this spectacular panorama is the dusty blue reflection nebula NGC 1333, located about a thousand light-years from Earth. The visual field at that distance is about 50 light-years wide.

Very close to NGC 1333 you can see the reddish emission of hydrogen excited by the energy jets and by the winds that originate the stars in the process of formation. Other reflection nebulae are scattered in the image, along with some dark dust nebulae. These clouds of gas and dust are near the edge of an extensive molecular cloud, and tend to hide newly formed stars and the youngest stellar objects or protostars from optical telescopes.

Most of these stars, less than one million years old, remain hidden among the ever present stellar dust. This dusty scenario could resemble the environment in which the Sun formed, more than 4.5 billion years ago.

Perseus is a constellation of the Northern Hemisphere, which can be observed during much of the year, between the months of August and April. It is on the zenith, just above our heads, during the month of November.

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