NGC 2264 in the Infrared

Spitzer_sig05-028a_1024

spitzer_sig05-028a December 22nd, 2005

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/P.S. Teixeira (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)

Newborn stars, hidden behind thick dust, are revealed in this image of a section of the Christmas Tree Cluster from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, created in joint effort between Spitzer's Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) and Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS) instruments.

The newly revealed infant stars appear as pink and red specks toward the center of the combined IRAC-MIPS image. The stars appear to have formed in regularly spaced intervals along linear structures in a configuration that resembles the spokes of a wheel or the pattern of a snowflake. Hence, astronomers have nicknamed this the "Snowflake Cluster."

Star-forming clouds like this one are dynamic and evolving structures. Since the stars trace the straight line pattern of spokes of a wheel, scientists believe that these are newborn stars, or "protostars." At a mere 100,000 years old, these infant structures have yet to "crawl" away from their location of birth. Over time, the natural drifting motions of each star will break this order, and the snowflake design will be no more.

While most of the visible-light stars that give the Christmas Tree Cluster its name and triangular shape do not shine brightly in Spitzer's infrared eyes, all of the stars forming from this dusty cloud are considered part of the cluster.Like a dusty cosmic finger pointing up to the newborn clusters, Spitzer also illuminates the optically dark and dense Cone Nebula, the tip of which can be seen towards the bottom left corner of the image.

The combined IRAC-MIPS image shows the presence of organic molecules mixed with dust as wisps of green, which have been illuminated by nearby star formation. The larger yellowish dots neighboring the baby red stars in the Snowflake Cluster are massive stellar infants forming from the same cloud. The blue dots sprinkled across the image represent older Milky Way stars at various distances along this line of sight. The image is a five-channel, composite, showing emission from wavelengths of 3.6 and 4.5 microns (blue), 5.8 microns (cyan), 8 microns (green), and 24 microns (red).

Provider: Spitzer Space Telescope

Image Source: https://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/image/sig05-028a-ngc-2264-in-the-infrared

Curator: Spitzer Space Telescope, Pasadena, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/info/18-Image-Use-Policy

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
NGC 2264 Snowflake Cluster Christmas Tree Cluster
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula > Type > Star Formation
Star > Grouping > Cluster

Distance

Universescale1
2,700 light years
Spitzer_sig05-028a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 6h 40m 9.4s
DEC = 9° 18’ 47.1”
Orientation
North is 1.6° CW
Field of View
33.2 x 56.1 arcminutes
Constellation
Monoceros

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Near-IR) 3.6 µm
Blue Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Near-IR) 4.5 µm
Green Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Mid-IR) 5.8 µm
Green Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Mid-IR) 8.0 µm
Red Spitzer (MIPS) Infrared (Mid-IR) 24.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Blue
Blue
Green
Green
Red
Spitzer_sig05-028a_1280
×
ID
sig05-028a
Subject Category
B.4.1.2.   B.3.6.4.  
Subject Name
NGC 2264, Snowflake Cluster, Christmas Tree Cluster
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/P.S. Teixeira (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)
Release Date
2005-12-22
Lightyears
2,700
Redshift
2,700
Reference Url
https://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/image/sig05-028a-ngc-2264-in-the-infrared
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Distance from Quickfacts
Facility
Spitzer, Spitzer, Spitzer, Spitzer, Spitzer
Instrument
IRAC, IRAC, IRAC, IRAC, MIPS
Color Assignment
Blue, Blue, Green, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3600, 4500, 5800, 8000, 24000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
100.039047108, 9.31307719886
Reference Dimension
2310, 3897
Reference Pixel
1896.12124634, 687.80169678
Scale
-0.00023973598326419, 0.00023973598326419
Rotation
-1.5531700399524
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Spitzer Space Telescope
URL
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu
Name
Spitzer Space Telescope
Email
Telephone
Address
1200 E. California Blvd.
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
91125
Country
USA
Rights
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/info/18-Image-Use-Policy
Publisher
Spitzer Science Center
Publisher ID
spitzer
Resource ID
sig05-028a.tif
Metadata Date
2021-11-09T06:25:39Z
Metadata Version
1.2
×

 

Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
2,700 light years