NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 12 January 2023: Star Cluster and Flying Ghost Nebula captured

    NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is a stunning picture of the star cluster and the Flying Ghost Nebula surrounded by stardust.

    By: HT TECH
    | Updated on: Jan 12 2023, 15:39 IST
    Know the 5 biggest stars in the universe!
    1/5 UY Scuti- Located 9500 light-years away from Earth, the UY Scuti is a hypergiant, which a rare star with extremely high luminosity, size and mass. It is the largest star in the universe and can be found outside of Scutum, approximately 4.5 degrees southwest from Alpha Scuti. First catalogued in 1860, the UY Scuti’s mass is 23.0 solar masses and it is actually 47 percent cooler than the Sun and it belongs to the constellation Scutum. It has a radius of 1,708 solar radii. (NASA )
    2/5 V766 Centauri Aa- The V766 Centauri Aa is a hypergiant part of the Centaurus constellation and is located approximately 4,900 to 11,700 light-years away from Earth. It has a solar mass of 13.0 and the V766 Centauri Aa is 21 percent cooler than the sun. It has a radius of approximately 1,492 solar radii. (NASA)
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    3/5 KY Cygni- The KY Cygni can be located below the crossbeam of the Northern Cross asterism, 5000 light-years away from Earth. It is part of the Cygnus constellation and has a staggering diameter of 1.976 billion km. The KY Cygni was first discovered in 1930 and was recognized as a red supergiant and has a radius of 1,420 solar radii. (NASA)
    4/5 AH Scorpii- The AH Scorpii is part of the constellation Scorpius and is located above the Fishhook asterism. The AH Scorpii has a smaller mass of 1.2 solar masses compared to other stars and it is approximately 40 percent cooler than the Sun. It has a radius of approximately 1,411 solar radii (NASA)
    5/5 VV Cephei- The VV Cephei is part of the Cepheus constellation and is located near the bottom of the constellation. The VV Cephei is a red-orange supergiant with a mass of 13.0 solar masses and is 21 percent cooler than the Sun. It has a radius of 1,329.62 solar radii. (NASA)
    Flying Ghost Nebula
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    The Flying Ghost Nebula is located in the constellation Perseus. (NASA/Jack Groves)

    Stars are the most widely recognized astronomical objects, and represent the most fundamental building blocks of galaxies. They are celestial objects millions of years old floating in space. The older and bigger the star, the brighter it appears. They are formed in star-forming regions called Nebulae. The makeup of a Nebula consists of gases, mainly hydrogen and helium. Gravity within a molecular cloud causes the gas and dust to collapse, forming dense cores. As the cores grow denser and hotter, they begin to fuse hydrogen atoms into helium, which releases energy in the form of light and heat. Once a core reaches a certain temperature and density, a new star is born.

    Grouped stars sometimes form patterns in the sky recognized by humans known as Constellations. As of now, there are nearly 88 recognized constellations in the sky. NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a stunning picture of stars and their clusters in the vast expanse of space in the constellation Perseus. The star cluster IC348 can be seen alongside the Flying Ghost Nebula surrounded by interstellar dust termed as Barnard 3 and 4.

    The image was captured by Jack Groves, an Amateur astrophotographer from Minnesota, USA.

    NASA's explanation

    This cosmic expanse of dust, gas, and stars covers some 6 degrees on the sky in the heroic constellation Perseus. At upper left in the gorgeous skyscape is the intriguing young star cluster IC 348 and neighboring Flying Ghost Nebula with clouds of obscuring interstellar dust cataloged as Barnard 3 and 4. At right, another active star forming region NGC 1333 is connected by dark and dusty tendrils on the outskirts of the giant Perseus Molecular Cloud, about 850 light-years away. Other dusty nebulae are scattered around the field of view, along with the faint reddish glow of hydrogen gas.

    In fact, the cosmic dust tends to hide the newly formed stars and young stellar objects or protostars from prying optical telescopes. Collapsing due to self-gravity, the protostars form from the dense cores embedded in the molecular cloud. At the molecular cloud's estimated distance, this field of view would span over 90 light-years.

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    First Published Date: 12 Jan, 15:30 IST
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