NASA Chandra's X-ray Observatory has released a composite image that depicts a section of the 5,000 light-year-distance Rosette Nebula, so named for its rose-shaped configuration.
The starry image can initially resemble a human skull, but it is just an optical illusion.
Near the image's center, hundreds of newborn stars can be seen in red X-ray measurements.
The skeleton of this cosmic skull is composed of large, dense pockets of purple, orange, green, and blue gasses strewn over a bed of dust.
Bright blue stars in the skull's eye sockets shine against the blackness of space.
The region in the bottom right of the image, where the bone structure's slurry of gas and dust is clearly heavier, has a thick cloud that obscures the view of freshly emerging stars.
The image's highest corners show a background of space's pitch-blackness with stars scattered throughout.
Due to their intense radiation and winds, these extremely hot stars, also known as O-stars, have removed layers of dust and gas, exposing a void filled with cooler particles.
The bubble-like cavity contains some of Rosette's O-stars, although the two biggest stars in this image are not located within the nebula proper.
Owing to Chandra data, many young star clusters, as well as additional, fainter clusters, may be observed in the image's center and on either side.