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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Open Cluster NGC 299

Open Cluster NGC 299
Click on the image for full resolution (1.9 MB)

NGC 299 is an open star cluster located within the Small Magellanic Cloud just under 200 000 light-years away. Open clusters such as this are collections of stars weakly bound by the shackles of gravity, all of which formed from the same massive molecular cloud of gas and dust. Because of this, all the stars have the same age and composition, but vary in their mass because they formed at different positions within the cloud. This unique property not only ensures a spectacular sight when viewed through a sophisticated instrument attached to a telescope such as Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, but gives astronomers a cosmic laboratory in which to study the formation and evolution of stars – a process that is thought to depend strongly on a star's mass.
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA
Image enhancement: Jean-Baptiste Faure

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