This year, a twinkling galaxy resembling a stunning Christmas tree has taken the spotlight in the night sky, thanks to the incredible photoshoot of the Hubble and Webb telescopes. Energetic stars, brilliant nebulae, and bright clouds of gas illuminate the scene like candles on a yuletide log, and offer a new and unique view of the universe.
The impressive photograph, captured by the two acclaimed space telescopes, shows the galaxy, a.k.a. NGC 2264, nestled in the constellation Monoceros, which is positioned between Orion and Canis Major in the winter sky. This collections of stars seems to emit its festive light from the centre of a huge stellar nursery.
This glittering cosmic tree is comprised of blue stars that are similar to our sun. These stars are born from gas and, surrounded by dust, heat up and are illuminated by ultraviolet light. Meanwhile, the surrounding clouds, which glow in shades of pink, are illuminated by the stronger and more energetic emission of light.
Merrymakers around the world may look up and find this gathering of stars clustered together in the night sky. A small section of the star formation is estimated to be about twenty-five light-years across, but can appear as large as two arcminutes across when viewed through binoculars.
Viewers with high-powered telescopes may be able to see the reflection nebulae, or “Cosmic Snowmen”, a nickname that has been given to some of the dark clouds of dust that can be seen near the brightest stars in the centre.
This extraordinary discovery may provide plenty of festive joy this holiday season. Both Hubble and Webb were designed to investigate the universe, its stars, galaxies, and birthing grounds of stars, offering new and amazing insights into the mysteries of space.