Celestial Fireworks: Star Cluster Westerlund 2

About this video
Duration: 58 seconds

The nebula Gum 29 is a star-forming region about 20,000 light-years away in the constellation of Carina. At the core of the nebula is a cluster of several thousand stars called Westerlund 2. These newborn stars are approximately 2 million years old, and their light illuminates, heats, and erodes the surrounding gas. The Hubble image, utilizing both visible and infrared light observations, was released in celebration of the telescope's 25th anniversary.

This visualization provides a three-dimensional perspective on the nebula and star cluster. The flight traverses the foreground stars and approaches the lower left rim of the nebula. Passing through the wispy darker clouds on the near side, the journey reveals bright gas illuminated by the intense radiation of the newly formed star cluster. Within the nebula, several pillars of dark, dense gas are being shaped by the energetic light and strong stellar winds from the brilliant cluster of thousands of stars. Note that the visualization is intended only as a scientifically reasonable interpretation and that distances within the model are significantly compressed.

Dark Nebulas, Emission Nebulas, Frame Sets, HD Video, Nebulas, Scientific Visualizations, Star Clusters, Star Forming Regions, Stars, UHD Video


J. Anderson, G. Bacon, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (STScI);
Acknowledgment: The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), the Westerlund 2 Science Team, and ESO

Publication: April 22, 2015

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