RCW 108 in 60 Seconds
Narrator (Megan Watzke, CXC): RCW 108 is a region where stars are actively forming about 4,000 light-years from Earth. This is a complicated part of our galaxy that contains young star clusters, including one that is deeply embedded in a cloud of molecular hydrogen. In Chandra's X-ray image, over 400 sources of X-ray light are seen. Many of these X-ray sources are young stars undergoing massive flaring just as our Sun did billions of years ago. The infrared Spitzer image shows the clouds of dust and gas in this region. The bright knot of orange and red is where a cluster of young stars is hidden. Astronomers think that intense radiation from massive stars in another nearby cluster, just out of view to the left of this image, is destroying the cloud that contains this cluster. While this sounds very violent and destructive, it is in fact a good thing. This will trigger a new generation of stars to form, continuing the cycle of stellar life and death in the Universe.