Peeling Back Orion's Layers

Peeling Back Orion's Layers

Astronomers unveil a portrait of star formation

By Ron Cowen, 15:54 PM April 15, 2008

Somewhere in the universe, in the dim recesses of a vast cloud of gas and dust, wisps of material are slowly coalescing onto a clump that has been growing for hundreds of thousands of years. Squeezed by gravity, hydrogen atoms deep within the clump suddenly fuse, igniting a fiery glow. A star is born.

Over billions of years, star birth has illuminated countless galaxies and enriched the universe with the elements necessary for life. In the Milky Way, the energy shooting out of young stars pum...

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