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Stars Brewing in Cygnus X
Ssc2012 02a

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA

Observation • January 10th, 2012 • ssc2012-02a


A bubbling cauldron of star birth is highlighted in this new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Infrared light that we can't see with our eyes has been color-coded, such that the shortest wavelengths are shown in blue and the longest in red. The middle wavelength range is green.

Massive stars have blown bubbles, or cavities, in the dust and gas -- a violent process that triggers both the death and birth of stars. The brightest, yellow-white regions are warm centers of star formation. The green shows tendrils of dust, and red indicates other types of dust that may be cooler, in addition to ionized gas from nearby massive stars.

Cygnus X is about 4,500 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, or the Swan.

Blue represents light at 3.6 microns: 4.5-micron light is blue-green; 8.0-micron light is green; and 24-micron light is red. These data were taken before the Spitzer mission ran out of its coolant in 2009, and began its "warm" mission.

About the Object

Cygnus XDR21W75NAFGL 2591AFGL 2636S106DR22DR23DR20DR15DR9DR7S105AFGL 2620LDN 896Cyg OB2Cyg OB9G79.29+0.46HBHA 4202-22BD+43 3710
Nebula > Type > Interstellar Medium
Nebula > Type > Star Formation
Nebula > Appearance > Dark
Star > Evolutionary Stage > Protostar
Star > Spectral Type > O
Star > Spectral Type > B
Star > Type > Carbon
Star > Type > Wolf-Rayet
4,700 Light Years

Color Mapping

Band Wavelength Telescope
Infrared 3.6 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 4.5 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 8.0 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 24.0 µm Spitzer MIPS


Position ()
RA =20h 32m 0.0s
Dec = 40° 30' 0.0"
Field of View
4.2 x 3.8 degrees
North is up