Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2007 December 7
Explanation: Skygazers recently following Comet Holmes have probably also chanced across this lovely starfield, not far from the comet on the sky in the constellation Perseus. Some 7,000 light-years away, this pair of open or galactic star clusters is an easy binocular target and is visible to the unaided eye from dark sky areas. In fact, it was catalogued in 130 BC by Greek astronomer Hipparchus. Now known as h and chi Persei, or NGC 869(left) and NGC 884, the clusters themselves are separated by only a few hundred light-years and contain stars much younger and hotter than the Sun. In addition to being physically close together, the clusters' ages based on their individual stars are similar - evidence that both clusters were likely a product of the same star-forming region.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.