The Trumpler 14 star cluster, captured earlier this month by the Hubble Space Telescope, lives a wild life in the Milky Way. It burns hot, shines bright, and will die young and spectacularly.
Stars are often the least features in space, not when telescopes can find impressive cosmic sights like merging galaxies, ice volcanoes on Pluto, or the mysterious Planet 9. But when they join together into a cluster, they're too beautiful to be ignored.
This cluster is home to an estimated 2,000 individual stars of varying sizes, some of which are among the brightest in the entire galaxy, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced.
Trumpler 14 was found by Hubble in a neighborhood in the Milky Way that is home to our most enormous and brightly shining stars, about 8,000 light-years away near the center of the Carina Nebula.The cluster, which can be seen in a photo snapped by Hubble and released last week by the ESA, is very young, at 500,000 years old. According to United Press International, its age is what makes it burn so bright and produce tons of new stars.
That's something else Hubble discovered about Trumpler 14 -- it's a veritable star factory, pumping out new ones at an "incredible rate" and "putting on a stunning visual display" in the process.
The ESA explained how exactly this process happens. The stars within the collection chug out high-speed particles from their surfaces, and with it, emit strong winds into space. Out in the open, these winds then crash into the gas around it, and that collision creates shock waves. These shock waves heat the gas to millions of degrees, and a result, a "intense burst" of X-rays are produced.
At the same time, the stellar waves carve hollows out of gas and dust clouds nearby. And it's this carving process that begins the process to birth new stars.
In the Hubble photo released by the ESA, one can make out a strange arc-shaped cloud at the bottom, which is believed to be caused by the powerful stellar winds emitted by Trumpler 14. Specifically, the wind may come from one star in particular -- MJ 218. This one is moving through space at nearly 220,000 miles per hour and as it flies, "sculpts" the gas and dust around it.
But Trumpler 14's life will likely be a short one -- as far as stellar lives go.Every star in this cluster is using up its hydrogen supplies, which are vast but won't last forever. Scientists estimate that Trumpler 14 will be around for only a few million years. When it dies, Trumpler 14 will do so in spectacular fashion -- with dramatic supernovae.
So far, 1,100 clusters like this one have been found in the Milky Way, but there are likely many more to be discovered. Up to 70 percent of all stars are believed to be collected in such groupings. Hubble captured the Milky Way's largest collection of "hot, massive, and bright" ones, among some of the brightest of the bright. Trumpler 14 is also the youngest and the most populous. As comparison, our trusty star -- the Sun -- is 4.6 billion years old.
This new image by Hubble actually captures 2,000 individuals, which range in size from one-tenth the mass of the Sun, all the way up to several tens of times more than the mass of the Sun.
The biggest in the bunch is the supergiant HD 93129Aa, the hottest and brightest in the galaxy. Here's a hint of HD 93129Aa's might: its surface temperature is more than 90,000 degrees Fahrenheit, The Christian Science Monitor added. The supergiant is actually part of a binary system, and orbits a center of mass along with another star, HD 93129Ab.
The Hubble telescope has been impressing Earthlings with stunning images of space since it was launched in 1990.
[Photo by NASA/Getty Images]