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NASA discovers "Christmas Tree Cluster" of stars glowing in space

NASA discovers "Christmas Tree Cluster" of stars glowing in space

Is this a Christmas message from space?

Christmas isn't limited to pulling crackers on Earth.

According to some new images from NASA, it's also being marked as an occasion in the cosmos, and no better than in the form of stars.

The space agency’s latest discovery brings the festive spirit to space with a “Christmas Tree Cluster".

Named NGC 2264, the cluster of young stars, shimmering like holiday lights, is situated in our very own Milky Way galaxy, about 2,500 light-years away from Earth.

NASA has found a 'Christmas tree' constellation
NASA has found a 'Christmas tree' constellation

This celestial Christmas tree isn't your typical festive decoration.

It's a formation of stars, some of which are even larger than our sun, and aged between one and five million years.

NASA captured the cluster's essence in a tweet, quipping on X, formally known as Twitter: "It's beginning to look a lot like cosmos":

And it’s not far off.

The composite image of NGC 2264 does indeed mimic a Christmas tree, bathed in a radiant green glow with blue and white sparkles that resemble twinkling lights.

However, the green isn't from pine needles but from gas, and those sparkles aren't festive lights but young stars emitting X-rays. Although NASA admitted that the blue and white dots were deliberately animated to flicker, showing their location and enhancing the resemblance of a Christmas tree.

Also, its appearance in space isn’t exactly as it appears in the image. NGC 2264's resemblance to a festive evergreen was embellished somewhat by rotating the image approximately 160 degrees and positioning the tree's peak towards the top, NASA said. Have we been had?

X-ray and Infrared Images of NGC 2264 from NASA.

“Young stars, like those in NGC 2264, are volatile and undergo strong flares in X-rays and other types of variations seen in different types of light,” NASA said in a post.

“The coordinated, blinking variations shown in this animation, however, are artificial, to emphasize the locations of the stars seen in X-rays and highlight the similarity of this object to a Christmas tree. In reality, the variations of the stars are not synchronized.”

Featured Image Credit: Credit: NASA / Sharamand / Getty