Space is not without poetry. Astronomers recognized a distinctive and familiar shape in NGC 2264, so much so that they named the cluster a “Christmas tree.” Thanks to the twinkling of stars, this cosmic tree is surrounded by a wreath of flashing magnifying glasses.
NGC 2264 wasn't just discovered: the cluster was observed in 1784. However, images obtained using the Chandra Observatory at the end of December show how well the “Christmas tree” cluster lives up to its nickname.
The so-called “open” cluster is located in the constellation Unicorn, about 2,500 light-years (or 25,000 trillion kilometers) from our planet. NASA states that some stars in this constellation are up to seven times more massive than our Sun.
Within NGC 2264 there is also a prominent nebula, Which is called a cone. At the end of its tip is the upside-down tree head.
Edited image to make people dream better
However, the image of the cluster published by NASA has been somewhat improved. By choosing the lights, Chandra's lenses were able to capture this tree in green, not red as it was before. The image was then flipped 160 degrees, so that the “tree” was “right side up.”
Likewise, the twinkling star wreath is a “synthetic” animation, to show the positions of the stars more clearly. “Actually there are differences [de luminosité] The stars are out of sync. NASA confirms.
The Christmas tree is a remnant of pagan rituals. Its sharp thorns were used to ward off evil spirits, as holiday historians like Nadine Cretin say in Table festivals and food traditions (Ed. Wanderer).
Who cares if the photo is “optimized” for the holiday season. A sparkling, protective fir tree in the constellation Unicorn: Could there be a better place to dream while observing the starry sky on December 25?
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