A telescope in the back of a modified 747 jet has snapped images of the Orion Nebula at a colour of light no other observatory in the world can see.
They are the first results from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (Sofia), designed to capture colours blocked by Earth's atmosphere.
The images show the star-forming region in unprecedented clarity.
Further study could yield insight into stars that are just lighting up, one of astronomy's "holy grails".
The results were presented at the American Astronomical Society's annual meeting in Seattle, US.
Sofia is a successor to the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO), which was retired in 1995.
The long-delayed Sofia project is now picking up where the KAO left off - allowing astronomers to see light at colours deep in the infrared.
Space telescopes can see out in this part of the spectrum as well, but Sofia allows far more flexibility. ...
via BBC News - Sofia flying telescope gives unique view of Orion.