The Massive Starforming Region NGC 7538
Massive stars (greater than about 8 times the Sun’s mass) form and reach their final masses through a process that is (1) different, in its details, from the way low-mass stars form, and (2) those detailed differences are not very well understood. Like their low-mass counterparts, massive stars tend to form in large associations of dozens to hundreds, like the complex of forming stars called NGC 7538 (above). Still densely shrouded in dust, newborn high-mass stars here are turning on and flooding the space around them with intense ultraviolet photons, lighting up the gas and dust from which they formed. Their brief lives mean that most will die where they were born and lived, some tens of millions of years from now.
This color composite image is made from near-infrared data from the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) aboard the Spitzer Space Telescope at wavelengths of 3.6 and 4.5 microns. The data were obtained from the public Spitzer archive.
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