Nasa has released new pictures of the 'countryside' of our galaxy.
The new images depict the barren area of the Milky Way, far from its more crowded core.
But the pictures taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope show that these areas are in fact full of "blooming stars", Nasa said.
This infrared image shows a striking example of what is called a hierarchical bubble structure, in which one giant bubble, carved into the dust of space by massive stars, has triggered the formation of smaller bubbles. The large bubble takes up the central region of the picture while the two spawned bubbles, which can be seen in yellow, are located within its rim.
Dozens of newborn stars sprouting jets from their dusty cocoons have been spotted in images from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. In this view showing a portion of sky near Canis Major, infrared data from Spitzer are green and blue, while longer-wavelength infrared light from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) are red.
In this view, infrared data from Spitzer are green and blue, while longer-wavelength infrared light from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) are red.
There are nearly 200 galaxies in this image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. These are part of the Perseus-Pisces supercluster of galaxies located 250 million light-years away. Normally, galaxies beyond our Milky Way are hidden from view when they happen to fall behind the plane of our galaxy. This is due to foreground dust standing in the way.
"We sometimes call this flyover country," said Barbara Whitney, an astronomer from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, in a statement.
"We are finding all sorts of new star formation in the lesser-known areas at the outer edges of the galaxy."
Our solar system is located about two-thirds from the centre of the Milky Way in the Orion Spur, an offshoot of the Perseus spiral arm.
Most of our familiar images of the galaxy point towards the bulky centre, but Spitzer is allowing researchers new views of the area 'behind' our Solar System, on the outer rim of our galaxy.
The pictures are part of the Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire, or Glimpse-360 project, which aims to map the topography of our galaxy.