Hubble Captures Magellanic Gemstones In The Southern Sky

Apr 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: Short, sharp shocks let slip the stories of supernovae

Related Stories

VLT discovers new kind of globular star cluster

May 13, 2015

Observations with ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile have discovered a new class of 'dark' globular star clusters around the giant galaxy Centaurus A. These mysterious objects look similar to normal clusters, ...

White dwarf may have shredded passing planet

Apr 17, 2015

The destruction of a planet may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a team of astronomers has found evidence that this may have happened in an ancient cluster of stars at the edge of the Milky Way ...

A grand extravaganza of new stars

Mar 11, 2015

This dramatic landscape in the southern constellation of Ara (The Altar) is a treasure trove of celestial objects. Star clusters, emission nebulae and active star-forming regions are just some of the riches ...

Recommended for you

How bad can solar storms get?

2 hours ago

Our sun regularly pelts the Earth with all kinds of radiation and charged particles. How bad can these solar storms get?

Mars rover's ChemCam instrument gets sharper vision

2 hours ago

NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover's "ChemCam" instrument just got a major capability fix, as Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists uploaded a software repair for the auto-focus system on the instrument.

User comments : 0

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.