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Stellar baby picture

Two bright stars emerge from the darkness in this image of Lupus 3

Two bright stars emerge from the darkness in this image of Lupus 3, a stellar nursery about 600 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius. The newborn stars, not even a million years old, formed when regions of a cloud of cool dust and gas (visible at center left) collapsed from gravity. The stars are so young that their brightness comes exclusively from this gravitational contraction; it will take millions more years before they start fusing hydrogen the way the sun and most other stars do. Astronomers believe that this system resembles the one that birthed the sun roughly 4.5 billion years ago. The image, released January 16 by the European Southern Observatory, was captured by a 2.2-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

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