Star Cluster Overshadowed by Infrared Objects

Wise_wise2011-019_500

WISE_WISE2011-019 May 20th, 2011

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Star clusters such as the Pleiades are often considered some of the most beautiful objects in the sky. Yet in this image taken by NASAs Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, the star cluster NGC 2259 is overshadowed by the surrounding stars and dust which glow brightly in infrared light.

Star clusters are groups of stars held together by their own gravity. Larger star clusters, with hundreds of thousands or more stars, tend to form into spheres and are called globular clusters. Open star clusters with up to a few thousand stars are more irregularly shaped. NGC 2259 is an example of an open cluster where the stars are more loosely organized.

As seen in visible light through a telescope, NGC 2259 appears as a smattering of stars loosely clustered in an irregular group. In the infrared light captured by WISEs detectors, nearby gas and dust clouds which are dark in visible light, along with stars whose visible light the clouds block, emerge into view. Seeing more stars as well as glowing gas and dust in the infrared makes the star cluster less obvious. In the annotated version of this image, NGC 2259 is located within the white circle.

One of the more prominent objects in this image is the bright blue star seen on the left side. This star is HR 258. Although it appears to be one star, it is actually a binary, or double, star system. The two stars are also known as CCDM J00549+2337 A & B. At a distance of 127 light-years, this star system is much closer than the NGC 2259 star cluster, which is roughly 12,000 light-years from Earth.

The NGC 2259 star cluster is hundreds of millions (300,000,000 to 700,000,000) years old. While this sounds old, it is much younger than the age of the Sun, which is 5.5 billion (5,500,000,000) years old. However, NGC 2259 is much older than the red-colored young stellar objects seen in this image, which are typically only a few million years old. Seen scattered around the image, these young stars are forming within the clouds of gas and dust.

The colors used in this image represent specific wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and cyan represent 3.4- and 4.6-micron light, mainly emitted by hot stars. Green and Red represent 12- and 22-micron wavelengths, primarily light emitted from warm dust.

Image Source: /image/WISE/WISE2011-019

Curator: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Berkeley, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
NGC 2259 HR 258 (CCDM J00549+2337AB)
Subject - Milky Way
Star » Grouping » Cluster » Open
Nebula » Type » Interstellar Medium
Wise_wise2011-019_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 6h 39m 25.0s
DEC = 10° 52’ 10.1”
Orientation
North is up
Field of View
1.3 x 1.0 degrees
Constellation
Monoceros

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 3.4 µm
Arrow_left_cyan WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 4.6 µm
Arrow_left_green WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 12.0 µm
Arrow_left_red WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 22.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_cyan
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Wise_wise2011-019_1280
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ID
WISE2011-019
Subject Category
B.3.6.4.1.   B.4.1.1.  
Subject Name
NGC 2259, HR 258 (CCDM J00549+2337AB)
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
/image/WISE/WISE2011-019
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
WISE, WISE, WISE, WISE
Instrument
Color Assignment
Blue, Cyan, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3400, 4600, 12000, 22000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
99.8540483, 10.8694721
Reference Dimension
3348.0, 2684.0
Reference Pixel
1680.0, 1335.0
Scale
0.000382099, 0.00038209927
Rotation
0.00
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
URL
http://wise.astro.ucla.edu
Name
Email
outreach@ssl.berkeley.edu
Telephone
Address
7 Gauss Way
City
Berkeley
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
94720
Country
USA
Rights
Pulic Domain
Publisher
Publisher ID
WISE
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/WISE/WISE2011-019
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2011-08-05
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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There is no distance meta data in this image.