Cosmic Christmas Tree: NASA shares new image of young star cluster

Christmas Tree Cluster

If you thought the Rockefeller Christmas Tree was big this one will blow it out of the water.

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NASA is putting a holiday spin on its latest photo release of NGC 2264. The cluster of young stars is known as the “Christmas Tree Cluster” and you can see why. It looks exactly like a cosmic Christmas Tree.

By young, we’re talking between one and five million years old, and the stars are either smaller or larger than our sun.

The celestial decor is in the Milky Way and is about 2,500 light-years from Earth.

The image that NASA released is made up of a composite of shots that enhances the Christmas-tree look through color and rotation choices. The blinking blue and white lights in a video version of the image are young stars giving off X-rays captured by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. NASA took creative license with the blinking, as they are not coordinated in real life.

The gas in the nebula is shown in green and captured by the National Science Foundation’s WIYN 0.9 meter telescope. the background stars that are in white are from the Two Micron All Sky Survey.

The image has also been rotated 160 degrees clockwise from its true view so the point of the “tree” would be at the top of the image.

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