Pitch Black: Cosmic Clumps Cast the Darkest Shadows

May 22, 2014 8:54 PM

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Pitch Black: Cosmic Clumps Cast the Darkest Shadows

Astronomers have found cosmic clumps so dark, dense and dusty that they throw the deepest shadows ever recorded. Infrared observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope of these blackest-of-black regions paradoxically light the way to understanding how the brightest stars form.

The clumps represent the darkest portions of a huge, cosmic cloud of gas and dust located about 16,000 light-years away. A new study takes advantage of the shadows cast by these clumps to measure the cloud's structure and mass.

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