Just a day like today, but back in 1776, America would be declaring its very own beginning. To celebrate the Fourth of July, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA released Tuesday a series of pictures from space showing millions of young stars, uniquely shinning and looking like fireworks. As the space agency called it, it’s a “burst of celestial fireworks.”
This glittering collection of stars is located in the center of an interstellar cloud formed by gas and dust – which, according to the NASA, are the materials needed to form stars.
This cluster of huge, hot stars is known as NGC 3603. It’s located in the Carina constellation, which is around 20,000 light-years from Earth.
“Like a July 4th fireworks display a young, glittering collection of stars looks like an aerial burst,” NASA told in a press after releasing the pictures – which are two images combined and taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009.
These kind of clusters are actually excellent for research.
Fireworks good for research
Despite the fact that the pictures make us think that the region seems to be completely quiet and calm, it’s completely the opposite. In fact, this environment is made of a combination of powerful ultraviolet radiation and extremely ferocious stellar winds. That’s why the gas and the dust of the nebula is totally blown away.
“Appearing colorful and serene, this environment is anything but,” NASA said. “Ultraviolet radiation and violent stellar winds have blown out an enormous cavity in the gas and dust enveloping the cluster.”
All of the stars were born at the same time. However, they vary in size, mass, temperature, and color.
The mass is what defines how long the life of the star is going to be. This means that, today, all of them could be in different stages, although all of them are the same amount of years lived. This lets scientists analyze with details the stellar life cycles.
According to the NASA, NGC 3603 also contains some of the “most massive stars known.”
Due to the immensity of these luminous, galactic objects, their lifetimes are pretty short. They burn through their “hydrogen fuel quickly,” leading them to ultimately end their lives in “supernova explosions.”
NGC 3603 is also relatively close to Earth. As the NASA said, it makes it an “excellent lab” for studying such “distant and momentous events.”
Astronomers also use massive clusters to study the “distant starbursts” that occur when galaxies collide, igniting a “flurry of star formation.”