NASA telescope photographs the cosmic spirit of Christmas in deep space

Telescopes have had their sensitive instruments honed in on an astronomical object resembling a Christmas Tree and 2,500 light years from Earth.

1 minute & 12 seconds read time

The holiday season is here, and just in time for Christmas, instruments used to observe the vastness of the cosmos have honed in on a certain astronomical in celebration for the time of year.

The specific astronomical object is officially called NGC 2264, which is also known as the Christmas Tree Cluster. This cluster contains a group of stars that astronomers estimate to be anywhere between one and five million years old, which is considered to be extremely young for a star. Notably, the sizes of these stars within the Christmas Tree Cluster vary drastically, with some stars being much larger than our Sun and others being far smaller.

The above image was captured using NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory, along with optical data from the Nation Science Foundation's WIYN 0.9-meter telescope. The image showcases gas in the color green, which NASA writes "corresponds" to the "pine needles of the tree," while infrared data from the Two Micron Sky Survey shows foreground and background stars in white.

NASA telescope photographs the cosmic spirit of Christmas in deep space 12541

"In this composite image, the cluster's resemblance to a Christmas tree has been enhanced through image rotation and color choices. Optical data is represented by wispy green lines and shapes, which creates the boughs and needles of the tree shape. X-rays detected by Chandra are presented as blue and white lights, and resemble glowing dots of light on the tree. Infrared data show foreground and background stars as gleaming specks of white against the blackness of space," writes NASA

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