Sunday, October 20, 2019

Starshine in Canis Major | ESO

Starshine in Canis Major | ESO
Distance: 5000 light years
It is impossible to miss the star in this European Southern Observatory (ESO) Picture of the Week—beaming proudly from the center of the frame is the massive multiple star system Tau Canis Majoris, the brightest member of the Tau Canis Majoris Cluster (NGC 2362) in the eponymous constellation of Canis Major (The Great Dog). Tau Canis Majoris aside, the cluster is populated by many young and less attention-seeking stars that are only four or five million years old, all just beginning their cosmic lifetimes.

The Tau Canis Majoris Cluster is an open cluster—a group of stars born from the same molecular cloud. This means that all of the cluster’s inhabitants share a common chemical composition and are loosely bound together by gravity. Having been born together, they make an ideal stellar laboratory to test theories of stellar evolution, the chain of events that leads from a star’s birth in a cool, dense cloud of gas through to its eventual death.

Though the stars in this image were all created at the same time, their various different masses mean they will lead very different lives. As Tau Canis Majoris is one of the most massive and short-lived types of star, it will burn through its nuclear fuel long before its smaller companions, which will keep on shining for billions of years.

This image was created as part of the ESO Cosmic Gems program, an outreach initiative to produce images of interesting, intriguing or visually attractive objects using ESO telescopes, for the purposes of education and public outreach. The program makes use of telescope time that cannot be used for science observations. All data collected may also be suitable for scientific purposes, and are made available to astronomers through ESO’s science archive.

Credit: European Southern Observatory (ESO)
Release Date: March 18, 2019

#ESO #NASA #Astronomy #Space #Stars #NGC2362 #TauCanisMajoris #Cluster #CanisMajor #Cosmos #Universe #Telescope #VLT #ALMA #Observatory #Chile #Europe #STEM #Education

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