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Scoping out a stellar nursery

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10:02am, January 28, 2004

Peering through a veil of dust, a space-based infrared observatory has recorded the most complete portrait ever taken of a star-forming region in a nearby galaxy. The stellar nursery, known as the Tarantula nebula, lies in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy. The nebula is one of the most active star-forming regions among the so-called Local Group of galaxies and is host to some of the most massive stars in the universe. It's been difficult to observe the nebula in its entirety because dust obscures clumps of Tarantula's youngest stars.

That's where the Spitzer Space Telescope comes in. Launched in August and equipped with dust-penetrating infrared detectors, the telescope not only detected previously hidden newborn stars but also found a vast

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