A star cluster 5,500 light-years away has been captured in incredible detail

New image shows stellar gas, dust and young stars in the process of forming.

A new image captured using infrared light in breathtaking detail gives an insight into how stars are formed within a cluster.

The composite, which was taken using European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, shows a stellar cluster 5,500 light-years away where several stars are in the violent process of being born.

Called the RCW 38, the image depicts clouds of brightly glowing gas, with dark tendrils of dust threading through the bright core of this young gathering of stars, according to the ESO.

The blue-tinted region contains numerous young stars and protostars that are still in the process of forming.

Located near the constellation Vela (The Sails), these stars are surrounded by streams of “cooler cosmic dust winding through the region, which glow gently in dark shades of red and orange”.

The image was captured by the HAWK-I infrared camera mounted on VLT in Chile as part of a series of test observations.

One of the HAWK-I’s many roles includes obtaining images of nearby galaxies or large nebulae as well as individual stars and exoplanets.

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