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Color Mapping

Astrometrics

11.15.05

Steamy Star in NGC 1333

This image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows a stellar nursery called NGC 1333. Spitzer discovered that a pre-planetary disk of dust surrounding an embryonic star within this region, called NGC 1333-IRAS 4B, is drenched with water vapor.

NGC 1333 is located about 1,000 light-years away in the Perseus constellation. It is a cloud of gas and dust that is busy manufacturing new stars. Spitzer surveyed four of the very youngest stars in this region and 26 others elsewhere, but found only one, NGC 1333-IRAS 4B (see inset), with water vapor. This might be because NGC 1333-IRAS 4B is in just the right orientation for Spitzer to view deep inside the developing star system and detect the water vapor.