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Images: Birth of stars

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency releases on Monday the first pictures from its project to create a high-resolution map of the universe.
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1 of 1 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Star pictures side by side

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency released on Monday the first pictures from its project to create a high-resolution map of the universe. The infrared image of the Nebula IC 4954 (left) shows the birth of stars in their cradle of formation about 6,000 light-years from Earth, according to a statement from the U.K.'s Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council.

The left-hand image comes from the Akari infrared space telescope, which can capture images that are much sharper and more detailed than those from any previous telescope. The pixilated photo (right) is of the same nebula, taken from the first infrared satellite known as IRAS, which was launched in 1983.

"These first images are extremely promising. The beautiful filigree structure in the nebula was impossible to see with the previous satellite IRAS...Akari can do many things that no other telescope on the Earth or in space can," Stephen Serjeant, senior lecturer in astrophysics at the U.K.'s Open University, said in a statement.

The Open University is one of several institutes involved in the mapping project. In addition to the U.K., the Netherlands and European Space Agency are also involved in the project.

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