Beautiful Science

This is an image of NGC 299, an open star cluster located within the Small Magellanic Cloud, just under 200,000 light years away. According to the European Space Agency, an open cluster such as this is a collection of stars weakly bound by the shackl
PHOTO: EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY/HUBBLE AND NASA

This is an image of NGC 299, an open star cluster located within the Small Magellanic Cloud, just under 200,000 light years away. According to the European Space Agency, an open cluster such as this is a collection of stars weakly bound by the shackles of gravity, and all the stars are formed from the same massive molecular cloud of gas and dust. As such, the stars have the same age and composition, but vary in their mass because they were formed at different positions within the cloud. The agency added that this unique property ensures a spectacular sight when viewed through a sophisticated instrument attached to a telescope, such as Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. It also gives astronomers a cosmic laboratory in which to study the formation and evolution of stars - a process that is thought to depend strongly on a star's mass.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2016, with the headline 'Beautiful Science'. Print Edition | Subscribe