• NASA shared a photo of the Tadpole Nebula
  • The image was taken by NASA's WISE satellite
  • The nebula has tadpole-like cosmic sculptures

NASA recently shared a stunning photo of a nebula that contains stars more massive than the Sun. According to the agency, many of the stars in this nebula are only about a million years old, which is fairly young in cosmic terms.

The massive cosmic structure featured in NASA’s photo is known as the Tadpole Nebula. It was photographed by the agency using its Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).

It is located in the constellation Charioteer and is about 12,000 light-years from Earth’s neighborhood. According to NASA, the entire nebula measures about 100 light-years across.

The nebula got its unique name due to the strange formations within its massive cloud of gas. As explained by NASA, the nebula is populated by star-forming regions that produce newborn stellar objects. Some of these infant stars are 10 times more massive than the Sun.

Since these stars are very young, they emit powerful ultraviolet radiation that can cut through the surrounding cloud of gas and dust. As the radiation travel across the nebula, they sculpt the gas around them. According to NASA, a couple of these sculptures appear like tadpoles. Some of these cosmic tadpoles measure about 10 light-years long.

“This Tadpole region is chock full of stars as young as only a million years old -- infants in stellar terms -- and masses over 10 times that of our sun,” the agency explained in a statement. “It is called the Tadpole nebula because the masses of hot, young stars are blasting out ultraviolet radiation that has etched the gas into two tadpole-shaped pillars.”

In the photo taken by WISE, two of these tadpole-like structures, identified as Sim 129 Sim 130, appear as squiggly lines with bulbous ends near the center of the nebula. NASA noted that the “heads” of these stellar tadpoles most likely contain star-forming regions.

“These ‘tadpoles’ appear as the yellow squiggles near the center of the frame,” the agency stated. “The knotted regions at their heads are likely to contain new young stars. WISE's infrared vision is helping to ferret out hidden stars such as these.”

Tadpole Nebula
A new infrared image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, showcases the Tadpole Nebula WISE, IRSA, NASA