Stunning New Hubble Image Shows Spectacularly Shiny Star ClusterBy Russell Westerholm
Many an astronomer and amateur stargazer have described stars in the sky as shimmering jewels, but the Hubble Space Telescope has now made the comparison quite literal.
According to Space.com, the Hubble captured a photo of the remarkably luminous Trumpler 14 star cluster. Situated some 8,000 light years from Earth at the center of the Carina Nebula, Trumpler 14 is one of the biggest collections of the most luminous, massive stars ever seen in the Milky Way Galaxy.
Here is an image depicting Trumpler 14's place in the Carina Nebula in high resolution.
"This region of space houses one of the highest concentrations of massive, luminous stars in the entire Milky Way - a spectacular family of young, bright, white-blue stars," the European Space Agency said in a statement. "These stars are rapidly working their way through their vast supplies of hydrogen, and have only a few million years of life left before they meet a dramatic demise and explode as supernovae. In the meantime, despite their youth, these stars are making a huge impact on their environment. They are literally making waves!"
Trumpler 14 is about 500,000 years old and consists of many stars that flame out quickly, though it is those that shine brightest. By contrast, Space.com noted, our sun is 4.6 billion years old and is far more even-keeled.
"As the stars fling out high-speed particles from their surfaces, strong winds surge out into space," read the ESA's statement. "These winds collide with the surrounding material, causing shock waves that heat the gas to millions of degrees and trigger intense bursts of X-rays. These strong stellar winds also carve out cavities in nearby clouds of gas and dust, and kickstart the formation of new stars."