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The process in which a cloud of interstellar gas and dust collapses to form a new star. The collapse may be triggered by the shockwave from an exploding star, the gravity of a passing star cluster, or some other external source. The process fragments a cloud that may span many light-years into smaller pockets of matter, which collapse under their own gravitational pull. As such a pocket of matter collapses, its core gets hotter and hotter. When it gets hot enough, it triggers the process of nuclear fusion, which powers the newborn star.


Cosmic Beacons May 21, 2010

Radio Programs

Growth Spurt A growth spurt in a distant galaxy March 27, 2017

M82 A gas crisis for a vigorous galaxy March 26, 2017

Moon and Spica Making stellar companions December 22, 2016

Tarantula Nebula Making stars by the basketful July 5, 2016

Grand M81 A “grand design” for a galaxy May 24, 2016

Zeta Herculis Stellar siblings spread out April 4, 2016

Evaporating Galaxy A galaxy that’s ripping itself apart March 23, 2016

Making Stars Ways to make stellar companions March 14, 2016

Whirlpool Galaxy Stirring up some hot young stars March 3, 2016

Planetary Pebbles Ingredients for a giant planet February 14, 2016

Horsehead Nebula Destroying a dark horsehead February 13, 2016

IC 1396 A busy stellar nursery January 28, 2016

Odd Relationship Black holes shut down starbirth December 17, 2015

Orion Nebula Looking into a cradle of young stars December 2, 2015

Polaris Flare A future stellar nursery August 19, 2015

Stellar Metals A difference between young and old stars July 14, 2015

Future Quadruplets A star cloud prepares to give birth April 15, 2015

Fewer New Stars A decline in the stellar birth rate February 25, 2015

Orion Arm A short “arm” of the Milky Way February 17, 2015

Spiral Galaxies Pinwheels and whirlpools February 15, 2015

Local Bubble Clearing out interstellar space October 28, 2014

The Elephant’s Trunk An elephant’s trunk in the northern sky October 11, 2014

Construction Zone A busy construction zone around a star August 10, 2014

The Brick Building a future stellar nursery July 27, 2014

Galactic Track A roller-coaster ride around the galaxy July 26, 2014

Magellanic Collision New stars from a galactic collision July 14, 2014

Moon and Antares Siblings that age at different rates July 7, 2014

Serpens South Young stars that are hidden from view June 23, 2014

Eagle Nebula Inspirational beauty in the southern sky June 20, 2014

Leo T A tiny galaxy with bright ambitions May 24, 2014

Condor Galaxy The condor stretches its galactic wings March 14, 2014

Cone Nebula A small, dark “horn” for the unicorn February 26, 2014

NGC 2264 Lighting up a stellar nursery February 25, 2014

Orion Nebula A busy stellar nursery January 22, 2014

Merging Stars Two stars that become one October 4, 2013

Good Neighborhood A good neighborhood for young stars? July 22, 2013

Barnard 68 Lighting up a dark cloud July 6, 2013

M13 Some bright stellar mysteries May 18, 2013

Star Factory A massive factory for making stars May 1, 2013

The Antennae Seeing the future of the Milky Way April 15, 2013

Flashy Neighbor Evidence of a flashy neighbor January 21, 2013

Molecule Factory Whipping up some complex molecules November 12, 2012

Mirfak The hero’s brightest star October 28, 2012

IC 10 A faint but busy galactic neighbor October 7, 2012

Andromeda Starburst Brightening up a giant galaxy September 12, 2012

Steamy Sights Steamy sights in the southern sky July 25, 2012

Pipe Nebula Lighting up a dark nebula June 16, 2012

Hercules Cloud Piling up stars in the outer galaxy May 23, 2012

AP Columbae A nearby stellar youngster January 13, 2012

Wet Universe Sprinkling water throughout the cosmos January 9, 2012

Featured Images

HST view of Messier 82

Busy Galaxy March 26, 2017

NGC 6334 and NGC 6357

Galactic Menagerie February 2, 2017

sequence of images depicting the merger of M31 and Milky Way galaxies

Crash Course January 11, 2017

Infrared view of Orion Nebula and surrounding clouds of gas and dust

Making Stars January 5, 2017

Protoplanetary disks around three young stars

Swirling Planets November 9, 2016

R136, a massive star cluster in the Large Magellanic Cloud

Biggest of the Big July 6, 2016

A star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud

Busy Nursery June 18, 2016

V1331 Cygni, a newly forming star

Almost There June 14, 2016

Strong winds blowing from a black hole in a distant spiral galaxy

Windy Black Hole January 15, 2016

The odd galaxy NGC 660

Busy Galaxy December 18, 2015

Jets from a protostar in Serpens

Huffing and Puffng November 6, 2015

Hubble Space Telescope image of a young star cluster

Anniversary Portrait April 23, 2015

Hubble Space Telescope image of spiral galaxy Messier 66

Evidence of an Encounter April 12, 2015

Infrared view of the interstellar medium

Filling the Void April 9, 2015

Elephant Trunk Nebulan

Elephant's Trunk October 12, 2014

Infrared view of Serpens South star cluster and nebula

Unmasking Hidden Stars June 24, 2014

Combined visible, X-ray image of M51, the whirlpool galaxy

Colorful Whirlpool June 4, 2014

NGC 3590

Young and Future Stars May 22, 2014

The Condor galaxy

Night of the Condor March 15, 2014

Space-based infrared view of the Rosette Nebula

Ruffled Rose February 28, 2014

NGC 2264, a stellar nursery in Monoceros

Star Factory February 26, 2014

Close-up Hubble Space Telescope view of the Orion Nebula

Beautiful Birthplace January 23, 2014

The Cat's Paw Nebula in submillimeter and near-infrared light

Star Maker September 27, 2013

The star Gamma Cas blows away gas from a nearby nebula

Star Blaster August 18, 2013

View of the 30 Doradus star cluster and the massive binary system R144

Megastars July 9, 2013

Ultraviolet view of spiral galaxy NGC 6744 from the GALEX spacecraft

End of the Line June 29, 2013

Starbirth region on the edge of the Milky Way galaxy

Starbirth June 6, 2013

Combined visual and millimeter-wave view of Orion Nebula, M42

Cold Fire May 16, 2013

The Antennae galaxies

Getting Together April 16, 2013

Star forming region in Orion

Hiding Places January 23, 2013

Gemini Observatory view of outskirts of Orion Nebula

Knotheads January 10, 2013

The nearby starburst galaxy IC 10

Active Neighbor October 8, 2012

The Lagoon Nebula, M8, from the European Southern Observatory

Pink Lagoon July 26, 2012

Infrared image of the Carina Nebula from space-based Herschel Observatory

Busy Nursery June 6, 2012

Star Stream May 15, 2012

Newborn stars in the Orion Nebula

Bright Babies March 1, 2012

The Carina Nebula, a massive stellar nursery

Star Factory February 13, 2012

Infrared view of the spiral galaxy IC 342

Tangled Galaxy January 22, 2012

Infrared view of starbirth in the vast nebula complex Cygnus X

Busy Nursery January 13, 2012

Optical and radio image of the Carina Nebula, a vast stellar nursery

Birthplace of the Stars November 17, 2011

Radio image of the Antenna galaxies

Boundless Starbirth October 5, 2011

IC 2944, a stellar nursery in the constellation Centaurus

Seeing Red September 22, 2011

X-ray view of the Carina Nebula, a stellar nursery 7,500 light-years from Earth

Star Factory May 26, 2011

Artist's concept of TW Hydra, a young star encircled by a disk of gas and dust

Messy Youngster April 25, 2011

A view of NGC 3582, a large stellar nursery in Karina

Life and Death April 19, 2011

New stars and the raw materials for more stars in the stellar nursery NGC 6729

Star Maker March 24, 2011

Spiral galaxy NGC 3621 in the constellation Hydra

Galactic Sparkler February 2, 2011

False-color image of Orion Nebula from European Southern Observatory

Delicate Power January 21, 2011

Hubble view of Hanny's Voorwerp and the galaxy IC 2497

In the Spotlight January 11, 2011

NGC 4666, a starburst galaxy

Lively Galaxy September 3, 2010

Stellar Sculptors July 15, 2010

Starbirth Factories

Starbirth Factories May 24, 2010

A "family" of young stars shows off in this combined infrared and X-ray view of

Big Family May 14, 2010

Cold Fingers March 19, 2010

Star Nursery February 10, 2010