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A Christmas tree lights up in the Milky Way, stunning new image from NASA

A Christmas tree lights up in the Milky Way, stunning new image from NASA

The young star cluster, known by the official name NGC 2264 and nicknamed the “Christmas Tree Cluster” due to its resemblance to a Christmas tree, shines about 2,500 light-years from Earth.

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The “Christmas Tree Cluster,” a cluster of stars officially known as NGC 2264 but called the Christmas Tree Cluster due to its resemblance to one of the most recognizable symbols of the Christmas holidays. Source: NASA/CXC/SAO/L. Fratari and J. Major

The Milky Way, as we know it, is a barred spiral galaxy that has the peculiarity of hosting our solar system, to some extent, on its outskirts. But inside there are several Hundreds of billions of other celestial bodiesamong stars, planets, asteroids, nebulae, star clusters and black holes, which we are learning more and more in detail thanks to the latest sensors and telescopes.

One of the most curious star clusters is “Christmas tree set”the star cluster officially known as NGC 2264 But it is named the Christmas Tree Collection due to its resemblance to one of the most recognizable symbols of the Christmas holiday. A new picture of him, just that Published by NASAis one of the most moving and evocative images ever processed from data Chandra X-ray Space Telescopethe follower Wayne telescope Located on Kit Peak in Arizona and from astronomical surveys 2 micron scan of all sky (2MASS).

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Christmas tree cluster, a group of stars that resembles a Christmas tree

NGC 2264 is a cluster of young stars – between one and five million years old – shining in the Milky Way. About 2,500 light-years from Earth. These stars are smaller and more massive than our Sun and range in mass from less than a tenth to seven times the mass of the Sun.

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His new image enhances his image It looks like a Christmas tree By choosing colors and rotating the image. “White and blue lights – NASA memorandum explains – QThey are the young stars who They emit X-rays detected by the Chandra telescope. Optical data from the National Science Foundation's WIYN telescope atop Kitt shows gas in the nebula in green, creating “tree branches and pine needles,” while infrared data from the Two Micron All Sky Survey show Stars in the foreground and background Empty“.

The composite shot, as NASA specifies, was rotated clockwise about 160 degrees of astronomical standard north facing upward, so that the top of the tree is at the top of the image. “Younger stars, like those in NGC 2264, are volatile and experience strong X-ray flares and other changes […], caused by various processes. Some of them are associated with activity involving magnetic fields, Including flares such as solar flares (but much stronger)but it is also possible that there will be changes In the thickness of gas that obscures the stars and changes in the amount of material still falling onto stars from surrounding gas disks“.

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