The Spitzer space telescope has snapped a striking false-colour image of the RCW 120 nebula, a vast cloud of gas and dust where stars have recently formed.
RCW 120 lies about 4,300 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius, just above the plane of the galaxy. It emits a broad range of colours in the infrared region, with wavelengths far beyond those we can see.
The ring-shaped emission is believed to originate from the heat of giant "O" type stars at the ring's centre.
These are among the most massive, hottest and bright stars we know of. Infrared light is emitted from the surrounding gas and dust as these stars impart their enormous heat.
Two different Spitzer instruments have contributed the colours represent increasing wavelengths; blue is 3,600 nanometres, green is 8,000 nanometres, and red is 24,000 nanometres (visible light that we see stops at about 800 nanometres).