The Snowflake Cluster

I saw this photo the other day on the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Flickr stream, and my jaw dropped:

What is this? Here:

Newborn stars, hidden behind thick dust, are revealed in this image of a section of the so-called Christmas Tree Cluster from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The newly revealed infant stars appear as pink and red specks toward the center and appear to have formed in regularly spaced intervals along linear structures in a configuration that resembles the spokes of a wheel or the pattern of a snowflake. Hence, astronomers have nicknamed this the “Snowflake Cluster.”

Star-forming clouds like this one are dynamic and evolving structures. Since the stars trace the straight line pattern of spokes of a wheel, scientists believe that these are newborn stars, or “protostars.” At a mere 100,000 years old, these infant structures have yet to “crawl” away from their location of birth. Over time, the natural drifting motions of each star will break this order, and the snowflake design will be no more.

Our universe will never cease to amaze me with its gigantic and massive beauty.


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One Response to The Snowflake Cluster

  1. Roger says:

    To quote Paul Simon: The way we look to a distant constellation
    That’s dying in a corner of the sky…
    These are the days of miracle and wonder
    This is the long-distance call

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