RCW 49 is a H II region nebula located 13,700 light years away. It is a dusty stellar nursery that contains more than 2,200 stars and is about 350 light years across.
The nebula RCW49, shown in infrared light in this image from the Spitzer Space Telescope, is a nursery for newborn stars. Using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have found in RCW49 more than 300 newborn or 'protostars,' all with circumstellar disks of dust and gas. The discovery reveals that galaxies make new stars at a much more prolific rate than previously imagined. The stellar disks of dust and gas not only feed material onto the growing new stars, but can be the raw material for new planetary systems.