Hubble Captures Magellanic Gemstones In The Southern Sky

April 18, 2006
Magellanic gemstones in the southern sky
Hubble has captured the most detailed images to date of the open star clusters NGC 265 and NGC 290 in the Small Magellanic Cloud - two sparkling sets of gemstones in the southern sky. Two new composite images taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys onboard the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope show a myriad of stars in crystal clear detail. The brilliant open star clusters, NGC 265 and NGC 290, are located about 200,000 light-years away and are roughly 65 light-years across. Credit: European Space Agency & NASA

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured the most detailed images to date of the open star clusters NGC 265 and NGC 290 in the Small Magellanic Cloud.

Hubble has captured the most detailed images to date of the open star clusters NGC 265 and NGC 290 in the Small Magellanic Cloud - two sparkling sets of gemstones in the southern sky.

Two new composite images taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys onboard the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope show a myriad of stars in crystal clear detail. The brilliant open star clusters, NGC 265 and NGC 290, are located about 200,000 light-years away and are roughly 65 light-years across.

Star clusters can be held together tightly by gravity, as is the case with densely packed crowds of hundreds of thousands of stars, called globular clusters. Or, they can be more loosely bound, irregularly shaped groupings of up to several thousands of stars, like the open clusters shown in this image.

The stars in these open clusters are all relatively young and were born from the same cloud of interstellar gas. Just as old school-friends drift apart after graduation, the stars in an open cluster will only remain together for a limited time and gradually disperse into space, pulled away by the gravitational tugs of other passing clusters and clouds of gas. Most open clusters dissolve within a few hundred million years, whereas the more tightly bound globular clusters can exist for many billions of years.

Open star clusters make excellent astronomical laboratories. The stars may have different masses, but all are at about the same distance, move in the same general direction, and have approximately the same age and chemical composition. They can be studied and compared to find out more about stellar evolution, the ages of such clusters, and much more.

The Small Magellanic Cloud, which hosts the two star clusters, is the smaller of the two companion dwarf galaxies of the Milky Way named after the Portuguese seafarer Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521). It can be seen with the unaided eye as a hazy patch in the constellation Tucana (the Toucan) in the Southern Hemisphere. Both the Small and the Large Magellanic Clouds are rich in gas nebulae and star clusters. It is most likely that these irregular galaxies have been disrupted through repeated interactions with the Milky Way, resulting in the vigorous star-forming activity seen throughout the clouds. NGC 265 and NGC 290 may very well owe their existence to these close encounters with the Milky Way.

Source: Hubble Information Centre

Explore further: Gaia produces stellar density map of the Milky Way

Related Stories

Gaia produces stellar density map of the Milky Way

July 6, 2015

This image, based on housekeeping data from ESA's Gaia satellite, is no ordinary depiction of the heavens. While the image portrays the outline of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, and of its neighbouring Magellanic Clouds, it was ...

NASA image: Stellar sparklers that last

July 3, 2015

While fireworks only last a short time here on Earth, a bundle of cosmic sparklers in a nearby cluster of stars will be going off for a very long time. NGC 1333 is a star cluster populated with many young stars that are less ...

NGC 2367: Buried in the heart of a giant

July 1, 2015

This rich view of an array of colorful stars and gas was captured by the Wide Field Imager camera, on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. It shows a young open cluster of stars known as ...

Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina

June 18, 2015

Live in (or planning on visiting) the southern hemisphere soon? A first time visitor to the inner solar system is ready to put on the first of a two part act starting this month, as Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina breaks +10th ...

Lost in space: New Hubble image of galaxy NGC 6503

June 10, 2015

Although the Universe may seem spacious most galaxies are clumped together in groups or clusters and a neighbour is never far away. But this galaxy, known as NGC 6503, has found itself in a lonely position, shown here at ...

Recommended for you

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

Interactive tool lifts veil on the cost of nuclear energy

August 24, 2015

Despite the ever-changing landscape of energy economics, subject to the influence of new technologies and geopolitics, a new tool promises to root discussions about the cost of nuclear energy in hard evidence rather than ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.