Astronomy Picture of the Day – Stellar Nursery in the Rosette Nebula

This image from the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory shows the cloud associated with the Rosette Nebula, a stellar nursery about 5,000 light-years from Earth in the Monoceros, or Unicorn, constellation. Herschel collects the infrared light given out by dust.

The bright smudges are dusty cocoons containing massive embryonic stars, which will grow up to 10 times the mass of our sun. The small spots near the center of the image are lower mass stellar embryos. The Rosette Nebula itself, and its massive cluster of stars, is located to the right of the picture.

This image is a three-color composite showing infrared wavelengths of 70 microns (blue), 160 microns (green), and 250 microns (red). It was made with observations from Herschel’s Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer and the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver instruments.

Herschel is an ESA cornerstone mission, with science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes and with participation by NASA.