Astronomers have discovered a large number of previously unknown regions in the Milky Way where massive stars are being formed.

The star-forming H II regions are sites where hydrogen atoms are stripped of their electrons by intense radiation from young stars.

With the help of infrared and radio telescope Spitzer Space, the researchers traced these regions which remain hidden due to gas and dust clouds around the Milky Way, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said Wednesday.

“We found our targets by using the results of infrared surveys done with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and of surveys done with the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array radio telescope,” said astronomer Loren Anderson who worked on the project.

“Objects that appear bright in both the Spitzer and Very Large Array images we studied are good candidates for H II regions.”

Through further analysis, the astronomers also determined the locations of the H II regions, discovering concentrations of the regions at the end of the galaxy's central bar and in its spiral arms, according to Xinhua.

Their analysis also showed that 25 of the regions are farther from the galaxy's center than the sun, according to the JPL.

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