SAN FRANCISCO — High-resolution images released recently of a massive star formation taken by a mid-range infrared (IR) instrument on NASA’s Sofia airborne observatory are a bold example of the power of flying a 100-in. IR telescope high above Earth’s dust- and pollution-laden atmosphere. The images are of the W40 star formation 1,700 light years from Earth, one of a handful of star-forming regions, such as Orion, that astronomers study because they are relatively close at hand — within ...


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