A star is born, and begins to shine

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THIS IS a part of our galaxy where stars which have just been born are beginning to shine, as the Sun once did on the orbiting rocks that coalesced into the Earth.

Though the region where the stars are forming, called RCW58, lies only 5,000 light years from us - and that is almost in the same street, cosmically speaking - this light cannot be seen with the naked eye because the stars are heavily obscured by clouds of gas and dust.

Instead, the picture by the European Southern Observatory in Punta Arenas, Chile, was captured by photographs taken at the infra-red part of the spectrum.

At these wavelengths, the light is not absorbed so much by the dust between the Earth and the new stars.