Berlin, October 30 (ANI): The combination of images taken by three exceptional telescopes has allowed the stunning Jewel Box star cluster to be seen in a whole new light.
Star clusters are among the most visually alluring and astrophysically fascinating objects in the sky.
One of the most spectacular nestles deep in the southern skies near the Southern Cross in the constellation of Crux.
The Kappa Crucis Cluster, also known as NGC 4755 or simply the "Jewel Box", is just bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye.
The Jewel Box cluster is about 6400 light-years away and is approximately 16 million years old.
It was given its nickname by the English astronomer John Herschel in the 1830s because the striking color contrasts of its pale blue and orange stars seen through a telescope reminded Herschel of a piece of exotic jewelry.
Open clusters such as NGC 4755 typically contain anything from a few to thousands of stars that are loosely bound together by gravity.
Because the stars all formed together from the same cloud of gas and dust their ages and chemical makeup are similar, which makes them ideal laboratories for studying how stars evolve.
The Jewel Box may be visually colorful in images taken on Earth, but observing from space allows the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to capture light of shorter wavelengths than can be seen by telescopes on the ground.
A new Hubble image of the core of the cluster represents the first comprehensive far ultraviolet to near-infrared image of an open galactic cluster.
It was created from images taken through seven filters, allowing viewers to see details never seen before.
It was taken near the end of the long life of the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 - Hubble's workhorse camera up until the recent Servicing Mission, when it was removed and brought back to Earth.
Several very bright, pale blue supergiant stars, a solitary ruby-red supergiant and a variety of other brilliantly colored stars are visible in the Hubble image, as well as many much fainter ones.
The intriguing colors of many of the stars result from their differing intensities at different ultraviolet wavelengths.
Another new image taken with the Wide Field Imager (WFI) on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the cluster and its rich surroundings in all their multicolored glory.
The FORS1 instrument on the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) allows a much closer look at the cluster itself. (ANI)