Where do stars come from? Human beings have thought about this question for thousands of years and have proposed many different explanations, but scientists have only had the technology to observe the places where stars are forming for a few decades. This is because stars form inside cold “dusty” clouds in space that are invisible to our eyes and invisible to telescopes that study visible light. Fortunately, we have many instruments today that can record light that our eyes cannot see, and we can use familiar colors to represent this light. Even very cold objects give off infrared light, so we can use this type of light to explore how the dusty clouds produce stars. People from around the world have helped scientists identify an early stage in the development of stars, called “yellowballs,” by searching infrared images in an important science project called the Milky Way Project.
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