NASA's spectacular Christmas Tree Cluster photo captures 5-million-year old twinkling stars

Christmas tree cluster
This composite image of a cluster of young stars looking decidedly like a cosmic Christmas tree! The cluster, known as NGC 2264, is in our Milky Way Galaxy, about 2,500 light-years from Earth. X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: T.A. Rector (NRAO/AUI/NSF and NOIRLab/NSF/AURA) and B.A. Wolpa (NOIRLab/NSF/AURA); Infrared: NASA/NSF/IPAC/CalTech/Univ. of Massachusetts (Image credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/L. Frattare & J.Major)

A mesmerizing display of cosmic artistry by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has captured a stunning image of NGC 2264, affectionately known as the "Christmas Tree Cluster." This newly released composite image not only showcases the celestial beauty of a cosmic tree but also sheds light on the vibrant life of young stars within our Milky Way.

NGC 2264 is situated approximately 2,500 light-years away from Earth and is made up of a cluster of youthful stars ranging from one to five million years old. The diverse assembly of stars includes smaller ones less than a tenth of the mass of our Sun, and larger stars, containing about seven solar masses. The captivating composite image has been carefully crafted to accentuate the festive resemblance to a Christmas tree and features a blend of colors and a unique 160-degree clockwise rotation. 

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.