This image displays a spectacular three-colour composite image of RCW38, obtained through three near-infrared filters. This is a region in the Milky Way at a distance of about 5,000 light years, where stars which have recently formed in clouds of gas and dust are still heavily obscured and cannot be observed in the visible part of the spectrum. Contrarily, as this image shows, they are very well seen at infrared wavelengths where the obscuration is substantially lower. The diffuse radiation is a mixture of starlight scattered by the dust and gas in the area, and atomic and molecular hydrogen line emission.
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