With some of Earth's most powerful imaging tools, NASA and its scientists have captured countless beautiful images of the cosmos over the years. Still, some images are undoubtedly better than others, and this breathtaking view of a distant cluster of star bubbles must be high on the list.
As NASA explains, the bright areas of the image are absolutely full of star activity. The colorful blobs have a diameter between 10 and 30 light-years and are filled with hundreds of thousands of stars as well as a wealth of gas and dust.
The picture was taken with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Unlike Hubble, which often captures the most beautiful images in the visible light spectrum, Spitzer looks up to the sky with infrared sensors that capture the light that our eyes can not actually see. This is important because it allows sharpeners to detect light sources that may not be visible due to cosmic dust that obscures our view of the earth.
The colors in this image represent different wavelengths of infrared light. Blue stands for a wavelength of light that is mainly emitted by stars. Dust and organic molecules called hydrocarbons appear green, and warm dust heated by stars appears red.
NASA also highlights features known as "bow-shocks" that appear as red, crescent-shaped smears.
As great as this picture is, it's just a small piece of a much larger mission called The Milky Way Project. Led by Zooniverse.org, the project is being driven by citizen scientists who comb through the publicly available observations of Spitzer and highlight features such as the bubbles and bow shocks shown above.
Spitzer, who has been scanning the sky for over 16 years now, has quickly reached the end of the road. NASA plans to decommission the spacecraft in January 2020, but images like this will live forever.