The Hubble team has released a beautiful new image of the open star cluster NGC 2002.
NGC 2002 was discovered on September 24, 1826 by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop.
The open cluster lies approximately 160,000 light-years away in the southern constellation of Dorado.
Also known as ARDB 264 or KMHK 982, it is about 30 light-years across and is a relatively young at 18 million years old.
“NGC 2002 is more spherical than a typical open cluster, which is a type of star cluster that has low star density and an irregular shape due to the weak mutual gravitational attraction of its constituent stars,” Hubble astronomers said in a statement.
“Individual stars in an open cluster can generally be observed, while the stars in a globular cluster — the other main type of cluster — are often too dense to make out even with powerful telescopes.”
NGC 2002 contains approximately 1,100 stars, including five red supergiants.
“The more massive stars in NGC 2002 tend to sink inwards towards the center, while the lighter stars move away from the center as the cluster evolves,” the researchers said.
“Visible in the center of the cluster are five red supergiants, which are physically massive but cooler stars that are fusing helium after exhausting their hydrogen fuel.”
NGC 2002 is part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.
“The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are rich in young star clusters, making them ideal laboratories for studying stellar formation and evolution,” the scientists said.
“In fact, these galaxies are the only systems that contain star clusters at all stages of evolution while also being near enough to Earth to be fully resolved, meaning that one can make out and study individual stars.”
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