DR22 is a star-forming cloud with gas and dust with a young star cluster in its heart, located about 4,500 light-years away from Earth, at the edge of the Cygnus-X complex (one of the richest known regions of star formation in our Galaxy) in the heart of the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. DR22 shows evidence of recent massive star formation and is bursting with new stars.
After blowing away their natal material the young stars in the star cluster (which are less than a million years old) emit winds and harsh ultraviolet light that sculpt the remnant cloud into fantastic shapes and blow out a cavity in the middle. Astronomers are not sure when that activity suppresses future star formation by disruption, and when it facilitates star formation through compression.
This infrared image is one of the first to be taken during Spitzer’s warm mission — a new phase that began after the telescope, which operated for more than five-and-a-half years, ran out of liquid coolant. The picture was snapped at Spitzer’s still-quite-chilly temperature of 30 Kelvin (about minus 406 Fahrenheit).
Spitzer’s infrared eyes can both see through and see dust, giving it a unique view into star-forming nests. The blue areas in this image are dusty clouds, and the orange is mainly hot gas.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech