Daily Telescope: A look at a young star cluster in a nearby galaxy

Zoom in / A new infrared image of NGC 346 from the mid-infrared instrument on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Nolan Hubble (NASA-JPL)

Welcome to Daily Telescope. There is too little darkness in this world and not enough light; Too little pseudoscience and not enough science. We’ll let the other posts provide your daily horoscope. At Ars Technica, we’ll take a different route, finding inspiration from very real images of a universe full of stars and wonders.

Good morning. It’s October 23, and today’s image shows a new view of a cluster of stars within the Small Magellanic Cloud, one of the closest galaxies to Earth. This galaxy contains an estimated 3 billion stars, which sounds like a lot. However, it is very small compared to the nearest galaxy with a similar size to our Milky Way. That would be the Andromeda Galaxy, which contains an estimated one trillion stars. That’s a lot.

Anyway, one of the most beautiful features in the Small Magellanic Cloud is a bright cluster of stars known as NGC 346, which was discovered by a Scottish astronomer about 200 years ago. Some of these stars may be up to two million years old.

In today’s image, we get an infrared view of NGC 346 from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. In this image, the blue color represents silicates and sooty chemical molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. According to NASA, the arc at center left may be a reflection of light from the star near the center of the arc. Bright spots and filaments indicate regions containing abundant numbers of protostars. Astronomers searched for the reddest stars and found 1,001 pinpoint light sources, most of them from young stars still embedded in their dusty cocoons.

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source: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

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