Nebula mixer

A colorful new snapshot of the star-forming region Rho Ophiuchi captures a mix of different types of nebulas, or interstellar clouds of gas and dust.

Seen in the infrared by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Explorer, or WISE, the bright white region at the center of the frame is an emission nebula, one that glows even in visible light because its gases are being heated by nearby stars. By contrast, the red region at bottom right shines because cooler dust is reflecting the light from a central star, creating a reflection nebula.

Darker areas scattered throughout the image are pockets of cool, dense gas that block out background light, resulting in absorption nebulas.