Stars Young and Old

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#77716 by @ 05.08.2005 00:00 - nach oben -
Stars Young and Old


Explanation:

Galactic or
open star
clusters
are relatively young
swarms of bright stars
born
together
near the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy.

Separated by about a degree on the sky, two
nice
examples
are M46
(upper left) 5,400 light-years in the distance
and M47
(lower right) only 1,600 light-years away toward
the nautical constellation
Puppis.

Around 300 million years
young M46
contains a few hundred stars in a region about 30 light-years
across.

Aged 80 million years,
M47 is a
smaller but looser cluster
of about 50 stars spanning 10 light-years.

But
this
portrait
of stellar youth also contains
an ancient interloper.

The small, colorful patch of glowing gas in M46 is actually
the planetary nebula NGC 2438 - the
final phase in the life of a sun-like star billions
of years old.

NGC
2438
is estimated to be only 3,000 light-years distant
and likely represents a foreground object, only by chance appearing
along our line of sight to youthful M46.




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