The Beautiful Colored Star Cluster NGC 330

This beautiful image taken by NASA and ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows the open star cluster known as NGC 330, which is located about 180,000 light-years away from Earth in the Small Magellanic Cloud. The cluster in the constellation Tucana contains a wide variety of stars, many of which appear in this beautiful image.

The most striking object in this image is actually the small cluster of stars in the lower left corner of the image, surrounded by a nebula of red ionized hydrogen and blue dust. This cluster is known as GALFOR 1 and was discovered by astronomers combing Hubble’s archival data in 2018, which data was used to make this image. To better understand this cluster, specifically if the nebula surrounding the cluster also contains a shock wave, scientists need better-resolution infrared images that will be achieved with the James Webb Space Telescope.

This image also contains clues about Hubble itself. The cross patterns around the stars in this image, known as diffraction spikes, were created when starlight interacted with the four thin structures that support Hubble’s secondary mirror.

Because a star cluster forms from a single cloud of primordial gas and dust, all stars contain approximately the same age. This makes these clusters real laboratories where astronomers can learn a lot about the evolution of stars. This image used observations made with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and incorporated data from two different astronomical observations. The first to understand why stars in clusters seem to develop differently than stars outside the clusters, a quirk first observed by the Hubble Space Telescope, and the second to determine how big stars can be. have before they end their lives in supernova explosions.


ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Kalirai, A. Milone