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Thanatos
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2009-07-09
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Hubble's newest shot of the Christmas Tree Cluster

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Hubble's newest shot of the Christmas Tree Cluster

Comments for: Hubble's newest shot of the Christmas Tree Cluster
Thanatos Report This Comment
Date: July 09, 2009 01:33AM

Known as the Christmas Tree cluster, this colorful collection of stars lies 2,600 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Monoceros, the unicorn.

The cluster was first discovered in the 18th century but was captured anew in this stunning image by by the 2.2-meter Max Planck Society/ESO telescope at La Silla observatory in the Atacama Desert. The telescope was outfitted with a specialized astronomical camera called the Wide Field Imager and a series of filters, and then aimed at the cluster for 10 hours to get the full-color image above.

The swirling gas clouds appear red because of ultraviolet light emanating from the young, hot stars that look like blue ornaments on a Christmas tree. The triangular feature near the bottom of the photo is an area of gas called the Cone Nebula.

The brightest star, at the top of the image, can be seen by the naked eye. The furry texture of the light to its right earned that area the name Fox Fur Nebula.

The whole cluster is in a star-forming molecular cloud, and the area between the brightest star and the tip of the cone is a great place for studying how stars are born.