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.
2013 October 26
Explanation: Found among the rich starfields of the Milky Way toward the constellation Cassiopeia, star cluster NGC 7789 lies about 8,000 light-years away. A late 18th century deep sky discovery of astronomer Caroline Lucretia Herschel, the cluster is also known as Caroline's Rose. Its suggestive appearance is created by the cluster's nestled complex of stars and voids. Now estimated to be 1.6 billion years young, the galactic or open cluster of stars also shows its age. All the stars in the cluster were likely born at the same time, but the brighter and more massive ones have more rapidly exhausted the hydrogen fuel in their cores. These have evolved from main sequence stars like the Sun into the many red giant stars shown with a yellowish cast in this lovely colour composite. Using measured colour and brightness, astronomers can model the mass and hence the age of the cluster stars just starting to "turn off" the main sequence and become red giants. Over 50 light-years across, Caroline's Rose spans about half a degree (the angular size of the moon) near the centre of the wide-field telescopic image.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.