It may not look much, but this fine filament of matter will soon blossom into something bright and spectacular, as its constituent gases begin to burn as a new set of stars.
This image was captured by the European Space Agency’s Herschel observatory, which is able to peer into far-flung reaches of the Milky Way. The filament, called G82.65-2.00, is made up of dust and gas which is currently extremely cold—just above absolute zero at about -434 degrees Fahrenheit, with the coldest regions shown in blue. The low temperature means the matter barely moves, making it highly susceptible to the forces of gravity. Those forces will gradually pull together the matter, eventually igniting it into stars.