NASA shared the impressive array of stars with the appropriately Christmas-worthy caption, “It's starting to look a lot like the universe.” And for those who don't have this tune stuck in their heads these days, we're sorry…
The object formed by this swarm of stars and gas is officially called NGC 2264, but it is also known as the “Christmas Tree Cluster,” NASA explains. The reason is clear: The composite image shows how the set actually looks like a Christmas tree, with that bright green glow and what appear to be dazzling blue and white lights hanging around it.
The green glow is actually gas, and the blue and white sparkles are stars emitting X-rays. It is related to the formation of young stars, some of which are older than the Sun and are between 1 and 5 million years old. NASA indicates that the amazing cluster is located in the Milky Way Galaxy, about 2,500 light-years from Earth. It has been noticed Chandra X-ray Observatory.
In reality, the blue and white dots do not all shine at the same time as in the composite image. Several images were grouped together “to emphasize the positions of the stars and the object's resemblance to a Christmas tree.” NASA also shared an animated version showing the cosmic tree with cozy flashing lights.
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