I’ve been avidly following Sky-Watching this holiday season as they count down to Christmas with some of the most beautiful astronomy photos I’ve seen. I came across this picture a few days back on Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog, as well, and looking at it for the second time I realized that it’s just too beautiful (and seasonal) not to share.
According to Plait,
This devastatingly beautiful image shows the birth pangs of a massive star. Called IRS 4 (for Infrared Source 4; it was first seen in IR images), it’s the really bright star just below center where the two blue lobes come together. It’s a bruiser, an O-type star with at least 15 times the Sun’s mass — 30 octillion tons! — and is a staggering 10,000 times as bright. It’s still in the process of forming, but it’s nearly there.