[Satnews] Single stars are often overlooked in favor of their larger cosmic cousins—but when they join forces, they create truly breathtaking scenes to rival even the most glowing of nebulae or swirling of galaxies.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image features the star cluster Trumpler 14. One of the largest gatherings of hot, massive and bright stars in the Milky Way, this cluster houses some of the most luminous stars in our entire galaxy.
Around 1,100 open clusters have so far been discovered within the Milky Way, although many more are thought to exist. Trumpler 14 is one of these, located some 8000 light-years away towards the center of the well-known Carina Nebula.
At a mere 500,000 years old—a small fraction of the Pleiades open cluster’s age of 115 million years—Trumpler 14 is not only one of the most populous clusters within the Carina Nebula, but also the youngest. However, it is fast making up for lost time, forming stars at an incredible rate and putting on a stunning visual display.
This region of space houses one of the highest concentrations of massive, luminous stars in the entire Milky Way. These stars are rapidly working their way through their vast supplies of hydrogen, and have only a few million years of life left before they meet a dramatic demise and explode as supernovae.
Astronomers estimate that around 2000 stars reside within Trumpler 14, ranging in size from less than one tenth to up to several tens of times the mass of the Sun. The most prominent star in Trumpler 14, and the brightest star in this image, is the supergiant HD 93129Aa.