Thursday, December 12, 2013

Astronomy Picture of the Day: 12/12/13 - War and Peace Nebula

This stunning picture shows the War and Peace Nebula, otherwise known as NGC 6357. This nebula is located in the constellation Scorpius and is located some 8,000 years from Earth.

The Nebula gets its name because, in infrared, the western section resembles a dove and the eastern section has the shape of a skull. NGC 6357 is a diffuse nebula and contains many proto-stars.

The open cluster Pismis 24 is located within the nebula; this cluster contains several massive stars. Originally, scientists thought the brightest object in the cluster – called Pismis 24-1 – was the most massive star on record as it was thought to be between 200-300 solar masses. Later surveys showed Primis 24-1 to be a binary system containing two stars, each between 100-150 solar masses.

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