This stunning image was chosen to celebrate NASA’s Hubble 25th Anniversary of the space telescope’s silver anniversary in space. What better way than to show off some of space’s own made fireworks!
This massive cluster of around 3,000 stars is called Westerlund 2, after it’s namesake the Swedish Astronomer Bengt Westerlund who discovered the stars in the 1960’s. The cluster exists in a harsh stellar nursery known as Gum 29, located 20,000 lightyears away from the Earth in the Constellation Carina.
How The NASA’s Hubble 25th Anniversary Image Is Made
Hubble pierced through a dusty veil shrouding the stellar breeding ground near-infrared light using the Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, this provided a clear view for astronomers of the nebula and the dense population of stars in the central cluster. This cluster measures between 6 to 13 light-years across.
The colossal array is only about 2 million years old and contains some of our galaxy’s most hottest, radiant and massive stars. Some of its biggest stars release a cascade of ultraviolet light and hurricane-force winds of charged particles that etch at the enveloping hydrogen gas.
The nebula reveals a wonderland landscape of valleys, buttes and oceanic structures. The buttes composed of dense gas and considered to be incubators of newborn stars, are a few lightyears tall and point to the centre star cluster. Other dense regions surround the buttes, containing reddy-brown threads of gas and dust. These red colours represent hydrogen within the cluster.
With the cluster being considerably young, in astronomical terms – 1 to 2 million years being considered young. It hasn’t yet had the opportunity to disperse its stars deep into interstellar space, providing astronomers with the brilliant opportunity to gather crucial information on how these clusters are formed by observing it within its star-birthing environment. The blue stars viewed in this image are majorly foreground stars much closer to earth, the bluish hue these stars give off, predominantly represents oxygen.
This image was named Celestial Fireworks due to its natural resemblance to a monumental fireworks display for all to enjoy.