New star puts on a show in stunning image

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A newly formed star some 500 light years away in the southern constellation of Chamaeleon Complex is putting on quite a show.

The bright light from the star known as HD 97300 is reflecting off the cosmic clouds of dust particles that surround it, thus forming what is called a reflection nebula known as IC 2631. From Earth, that reflecting light appears as the swirling blue in this image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.

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HD 97300 is one of the youngest stars in the area but it is not alone. Take note of the dark nebulae in the image, suggesting the region is full of star-making material. Dark nebulae are so dense with gas and dust that they prevent the passage of background starlight.

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While HD 97300 is bright, it isn’t all that big and its moment in the spotlight is not expected to last. In fact, it is called a T Tauri star, the youngest visible stage for relatively small stars. As these stars mature and reach adulthood, they will lose mass and shrink.