The Strange Disappearance of the North American Nebula

The North American Nebula is a flattering portrait of the NAFTA countries, floating in space. But when the Spitzer Space Telescope generated infrared images of it, that stately American land mass was replaced by raw chaos — which tells us something more about the stages of stellar development.

Here are some cute pictures of baby stars. [via Caltech]

The Strange Disappearance of the North American NebulaS

The visible view of the North American Nebula

The Strange Disappearance of the North American NebulaS

Visible light combined with infrared, with the continent still clearly visible

The Strange Disappearance of the North American NebulaS

Infrared imaging

The Strange Disappearance of the North American NebulaS

Infrared image shows all the stages of star development, including the hot gas around newborn stars.