Spitzer snaps family portrait capturing stars from infancy to old age

The Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared view of the Cepheus B and C regions, providing a family portrait of stars from infancy to old age. Click on the image for an annotated view. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope will cease operations in January 2020, but the infrared observatory is still capturing stunning views of the cosmos like this large mosaic showing multiple star clusters made up of suns spanning the full range of stellar evolution, from infancy to old age. The mosaic (click on the image above for a labled view) thus provides a family portrait of sorts, featuring young gas-and-dust-rich star forming regions — Cepheus C, for example — to more mature clusters — Cepheus B — containing middle-age suns and stellar senior citizens. The Spitzer mosaic also shows off a variety of other interesting targets, including V374 Ceph, a massive star that appears to be surrounded by an edge-on disc of debris, and a runway star plowing through gas and dust and creating a visible shock wave. The video below from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory provides a guided tout.