A brood of newborn stars basks in an orange glow in one of the first false-color WISE space telescope images, released February 17.
Star-driven winds and radiation from the stellar nursery, called NGC 3603, warm the cold dust and gas surrounding the nebula. This radiates the stars' energy as infrared light and forms a green halo.
"You're seeing dust that's been heated up by all the new stars," said WISE's Mainzer.
Because NASA's WISE has such a large field of view, it can capture the "big picture" in a way that other telescopes can't, she added.
For example, the WISE picture is 2,500 times larger than the inset taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, which shows giant stars located at NGC 3603's heart.