UNITED STATES: NGC 2660, a sparkling cluster of stars in the constellation Vela that may be seen best in the southern sky, shines through the night sky like fireworks’ sparks.
NGC 2660 is an open cluster, a star cluster that can have tens to several hundred stars that are only loosely attached by gravity.
According to NASA, since all of the stars in an open cluster are born from the same region of gas and dust, they have a lot in common, including age and chemical makeup.
Open clusters are more straightforward to study than their older, denser, and more densely packed cousins, globular clusters, because astronomers can more easily distinguish between individual stars in them.
Their stars may be young or ancient, and after a few million years, they may scatter into the spiral or irregular galaxies where they originated.
The “diffraction spikes” that encircle several of the stars in this image are created when the glow from vital spots of light reflects off the secondary mirror support of Hubble, NASA explained.
A foreground star that is not a cluster member can be seen to the left of the bright red object with the apparent diffraction spikes.
Hubble saw this open cluster as part of a project to determine the age of white dwarf stars in open clusters.
The Hubble Space Telescope, also known as HST or Hubble, is an observatory that was put into low-Earth orbit in 1990 and is still in use today.
The only telescope created specifically for astronaut maintenance in orbit is Hubble. The
telescope’s systems, including all five of its primary instruments, have undergone repairs, upgrades, and replacements throughout five Space Shuttle trips.
NASA and ESA collaborated internationally on the Hubble Space Telescope project. Hubble science operations are managed by AURA’s Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.