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NASA Releases Photo of Christmas Tree Star Cluster

NASA recently released a new image of a young star cluster, which greatly resembles the shape of a Christmas tree.

Featured Image Credit: NASA/New Line Cinema

Say what? Speak of Holiday spirit!

Recently, NASA released a new image of a star cluster, which greatly resembles the shape of a Christmas tree.

The release of this image comes just in time for the holiday season.

What is NGC 2264?

According to NASA, the holiday cluster is known as NGC 2264, more popularly referred to as the “Christmas Tree Cluster.”

It is based in our galaxy, being based approximately 2,500 light-years away from Earth. 

This young star cluster consists of a variety of stars ranging from about one and five million years old.

Even more so, to our surprise, stars in the NGC 2264 are both smaller and larger than the Sun.

These stars range from some being less than a tenth the mass of the Sun, meanwhile others contain about seven solar masses.

Talk about having range!

Depiction of a star cluster resembling a Christmas tree in the galactic sky. Image: NASA

What people think of the Christmas Tree Cluster

This image left many people stunned, with many voicing their opinions on the cluster on social media.

A user wrote, “Wow! That’s a beautiful image. I wonder how many years it will take for the stars in the cluster to become fully formed.”

We can’t help but agree.

Meanwhile, another wrote, “Absolutely mesmerizing! Thanks for sharing the festive beauty of NGC 2264 captured by NASA. Nature’s own cosmic Christmas tree!”

We also cannot help but agree with this user; we, too are grateful for NASA sharing this beauty.

However, some users were not fully satisfied.

Another user wittingly wrote, “NASA [is] bringing us cosmic Christmas vibes – now where’s the intergalactic Santa and his space reindeer?”

Hopefully within our lifetime, we could see this full arrangement be depicted. However, we do not see this happening anytime soon.

NASA comes clean

Though this phenomenon might strike some individuals as surreal, NASA came clean with the truth on the matter.

They admitted that the new composite image enhances the resemblance to a Christmas tree through advanced choices of color and rotation.

The space agency further explained,

“Optical data from the National Science Foundation’s WIYN 0.9-meter telescope on Kitt Peak shows gas in the nebula in green, corresponding to the pine needles of the tree, and infrared data from the Two Micron All Sky Survey shows foreground and background stars in white. This image has been rotated clockwise by about 160 degrees from the astronomer’s standard of North pointing upward, so that it appears like the top of the tree is toward the top of the image.”

NASA

We appreciate the agency’s honesty regarding the matter and their efforts in creating the holiday image.

NASA’s trendsetter history

This is not the first time that NASA has trended for its depiction of our universe.

In early 2022, social media was in a frenzy to find the picture that NASA took the day they were born.

Many users shared their results. Some found images of Orion nebulas, others found images of solar filaments, and some of the galaxy clusters.

@j4sminele

❤️‍🔥❤️‍🔥🪐🪐🪐 #nasabirthday

♬ so my darling – audios ((:

It is safe to say this trend grew with popularity, with the hashtag #nasabirthday garnering over 15.8 million views on TikTok. 

We thank NASA for all of the intergalactic fun they bring and can’t wait to see what they surprise us with next!

Written By

Hello! I am currently studying Communications at DePaul University. I have a deep passion for music and art. In my free time, I like to work out, make pottery, and create journalism articles.

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