If you find yourself scrolling through mundane pictures on your Instagram handle at any point, head to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Hubble Telescope handle and be ready to witness the spectacles our universe beholds. Earlier this week, the NASA Hubble Instagram handle shared a breathtaking picture of Westerlund 2 that displayed the cluster of some twinkling new stars.
The picture was a fusion of giant clouds of dust and gas with a stroke of milky white, golden orange, and pitch-black galactic waves. In its caption, NASA explained that the picture contained some of the Milky Way Galaxy’s hottest, brightest, and most massive stars. The region Westerlund 2 is located at the Carina constellation which is roughly 20,000 light-years away from earth and is estimated to be one to two million years old. According to NASA, data collected in visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope reveal thick clouds where the stars are forming. High-energy radiation in the form of X-rays, however, can penetrate this cosmic haze and are detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
The image certainly left netizens starstruck as one user commented, “Woow that’s so beautiful”, while another wrote, “Beautiful❤️ Hubble always amazing!”
The image was released on April 23, 2015, by NASA and European Space Agency’s Hubble Space Telescope to celebrate Hubble’s 25th anniversary in orbit. Working for a quarter of a century, Hubble shared new discoveries, stunning images and revealed some outstanding scientific information to scientists. The image’s central region contains the star cluster which blends with the visible-light data taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys and near-infrared exposures taken by the Wide Field Camera 3, revealed NASA. The surrounding region consists of visible-light observations taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys.
A few nebulae in the universe come from the gas and dust released by the explosion of a dying star, such as a supernova. Meanwhile, other nebulae are regions where new stars are beginning to form, because of which some nebulae are called “star nurseries." Westerlund 2 is one such star nursery in our galaxy.