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Image 1: The NGC 1333 cluster
The NGC 1333 cluster in the constellation Perseus is embedded deeply in the Perseus giant molecular cloud, at a distance of 1,000 light-years from Earth. It is the home to several hundred young and forming stars with ages less than about one million years. The cold molecular gas in the cloud collapses under the pull of gravity to form the new stars. Prominent in this infrared image are outflows of gas being driven by the forming stars, and shocks where these outflows strike the cold molecular material in the surrounding cloud. This image was obtained with the University of Florida’s near-infrared camera and multi-object spectrometer named FLAMINGOS, using the National Science Foundation’s 2.1-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson AZ. The three colors in the image correspond to near-infrared wavelengths: red (2.2 microns), green (1.6 microns), and blue (1.3 microns).

Credit: University of Florida and NOAO/AURA/NSF

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Image 2: A Large Disk Around a Young Star in NGC 1333
This image shows a large, nearly-edge on silhouette disk discovered in the NGC 1333 cluster using the FLAMINGOS infrared instrument at the 2.1-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. This extremely large disk of dust and gas is roughly 3,600 Astronomical Units in diameter, roughly four times the size of any such disk seen previously. (One Astronomical Unit equals 93 million miles, the distance from Earth to the Sun.) The formation of flattened disks around forming “infant” stars has been a long-standing prediction of star formation theory. Not only do these disks provide a means of delivering material to the forming stars, they are also the sites of planet formation. Given the glare of the central star, such disks are all but invisible except when viewed at an angle where the dust in the disk blocks the light from the central star, making the disk visible in scattered light from the obscured star. The three colors in the image correspond to near-infrared wavelengths: red (2.2 microns), green (1.6 microns), and blue (1.3 microns).

Credit: University of Florida and NOAO/AURA/NSF

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NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. Last updated 07 January, 2002.

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