RCW 38 is at a distance of ~1.7 kpc (~5500 light years) from us, near the famous Vela supernova remnant and the Gum nebula. This starforming region contains a number of highly massive O stars embedded in a dense obscuring cloud. The stars are about 2 million years old, indicating that star formation is ongoing is this relatively young region. As seen in the 2MASS near-infrared Image mosaic, the nebulosity associated with RCW 38 is extensive across a large area, with dust lanes and patches running throughout. Other, smaller obscured star-forming regions are nearby, with less-obscured young, massive stars and associated reflection nebulae also in the field.
Image credit: 2MASS/R. Hurt