NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 5 January 2023: The Pleiades Star Cluster | Tech News

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 5 January 2023: The Pleiades Star Cluster

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is a stunning picture of the Pleiades star cluster, the cosmic cloud located 400 light-years away from Earth.

| Updated on: Jan 05 2023, 17:56 IST
Asteroid threat looms! 5 asteroids set to buzz Earth soon, NASA reveals
The Pleiades
1/5 Asteroid 2019 AY3 - NASA has red-flagged an asteroid named Asteroid 2019 AY3 due to its extremely close approach to the planet. The asteroid has a width of 190 feet, making it nearly as big as an aircraft, and will make its closest approach to Earth today, January 4 at a distance of 6.4 million kilometers per hour and is already on its way travelling at a speed of nearly 71074 kilometers per hour.  (Wikimedia Commons)
The Pleiades
2/5 Asteroid 2022 YS4 - This space rock is on its way towards Earth and will make a close approach today, January 4. This asteroid is nearly the size of an aircraft with a width of 85 feet. The Asteroid 2022 YS4 is expected to make its closest approach to the planet at a distance of 2.2 million kilometers at a speed of 24470 kilometers per hour.  (Wikimedia Commons)
The Pleiades
3/5 Asteroid 2022 YL4 – This asteroid, with a size ranging between 26 feet and 59 feet, will make its close trip to Earth tomorrow, January 5 at a distance of nearly 1.9 million kilometers. The asteroid, known as Asteroid 2022 YL4, is already rushing towards Earth slower than other asteroids at a speed of 7038 kilometers per hour.  (Pixabay)
The Pleiades
4/5 Asteroid 2022 YN1 – Another asteroid named Asteroid 2022 YN1 is heading for Earth and will make a close approach on January 6. This asteroid, with a size between 131 feet and 291 feet, is heading for Earth at a blistering speed of 19836 kilometers per hour. It will miss Earth at a distance of 7 million kilometers.  (Pixabay)
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5/5 Asteroid 2021 TL – The fifth and largest asteroid, with a size ranging between 183 feet and 393 feet, is named Asteroid 2021 TL and will be making its closest Earth approach on January 9. It will come as close as 5.4 million kilometers, according to NASA JPL. The asteroid is moving at a blistering speed of 30422 kilometer per hour. (Pixabay)
The Pleiades
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The Pleiades is a star cluster located in the constellation Taurus. (NASA/Stefan Thrun)

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. After formation, many stars form groups from the same Nebula, which is known as a Star Cluster. According to NASA, Star clusters can contain as few as ten stars or as many as millions of stars.

NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day is of the Pleiades Star Cluster with its striking blue reflection. It is one such star cluster which is located approximately light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus. It is an open star cluster which contains over a thousand stars that are loosely bound by gravity. Pleiades is also known as the Seven Sisters as its name has been derived from the famous Greek legend where the Pleiades are the 7 daughters of the Titan god Atlas and the ocean nymph Pleione. Therefore, their names along with their daughters' make up the 9 brightest stars in the star cluster.

The image was captured by Stefan Thrun who is an astrophotographer and astonishingly, a former German Air Force Soldier.

NASA's explanation of the picture

Hurtling through a cosmic dust cloud a mere 400 light-years away, the lovely Pleiades or Seven Sisters open star cluster is well-known for its striking blue reflection nebulae. It lies in the night sky toward the constellation Taurus and the Orion Arm of our Milky Way galaxy. The sister stars are not related to the dusty cloud though. They just happen to be passing through the same region of space. Known since antiquity as a compact grouping of stars, Galileo first sketched the star cluster viewed through his telescope with stars too faint to be seen by eye. Charles Messier recorded the position of the cluster as the 45th entry in his famous catalog of things which are not comets.

In Greek myth, the Pleiades were seven daughters of the titan Atlas and sea-nymph Pleione. Their parents' names are included in the cluster's nine brightest stars. This well-processed, color-calibrated telescopic image features pin-point stars and detailed filaments of interstellar dust captured in over 9 hours of exposure. It spans more than 20 light-years across the Pleiades star cluster.

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First Published Date: 05 Jan, 17:50 IST