6 October 2016 | Heart’s Core

Melotte 15

Credit: Sara Wager | Click  to enlarge

 

Situated in the centre of the Heart Nebula, a vast region of glowing gas 7500 light years from earth, this celestial body called Melotte 15 is a cluster of bright young stars, some of which are nearly 50 times the mass of our Sun.

Stellar winds and radiation from these stars are sculpting these spectacular cosmid cloud shapes, similar to the Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula.

The glowing emissions you see are thin blisters formed at the surface of several giant molecular clouds. The clouds of initially cold neutral gas have fragmented and condensed in many areas, forming clusters of bright young stars collectively known as the Cas OB6 association.

It is estimated Melotte 15 is about 1.5 million years old, which is actually very young in relation to the cosmic timescale.

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