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This image shows data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, from the IRAC instrument, with colors corresponding to wavelengths of 3.6, 4.5, 5.8 and 8.0 µm (shown as blue, green, orange and red).
The grand red delta filling most of the image is a far-away nebula, or a cloud of gas and dust. A second nebula is located in the lower right portion of the image.
Within the first nebula, on the left side of this image, a dark filament runs horizontally through the green cloud. A smattering of baby stars (the red and yellow dots) appear inside it. Known as Cepheus C, the area is a particularly dense concentration of gas and dust where infant stars form. This region is called Cepheus C because it lies in the constellation Cepheus, which can be found near the constellation Cassiopeia. Cepheus-C is about 6 light years long, and lies about 40 light-years from the bright spot at the tip of the nebula.
Two features identified in the annotated image are visible only in the multi-instrument version of the image, found here. The first is V374 Ceph in the larger nebula. The second is the "runaway star" in the smaller nebula.
A second star cluster is located just above the second large nebula on the right side of the image. Known as Cepheus B, the cluster sits within a few thousand light-years of our Sun. A study of this region using Spitzer found that the dramatic collection is about 4 million to 5 million years old Ã¢Â?Â? slightly older than those in Cepheus C.
Also found in the second nebula is a small cluster of newborn stars that illuminates the dense cloud of gas and dust where they formed. It appears as a bright teal splash.
In 2017 and 2016, high school students and teachers contributed to our understanding of the Cepheus C star-forming region. As part of NITARP (NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program), the students and teachers combed through Spitzer data to identify the presence of young stellar objects. Over two years, the students and teachers identified more than 100 such objects that hadn't been identified in previous studies. Astronomer Luisa Rebull of IPAC at Caltech guided the students and teachers. Educators interested in participating in NITARP should visit the program website.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. Space operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at IPAC at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.
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