Celestial Fireworks: Into Star Cluster Westerlund 2
What if you could go directly to a cluster where the stars are forming? This animation was done with 3D computer modeling of the region around the star cluster Westerlund 2, based on Hubble Space Telescope images in visible and infrared light. Westerlund 2 covers about 10 light-years and is about 20 thousand light years distant towards the constellation Keel of the ship (Carina). As the illustrative animation begins, the larger Gum 29 nebula fills the screen with the young group of bright stars visible in the center. Stars pass your finger as you approach the cluster. Soon, your imaginary vessel rotates and you pass over the interstellar gas and dust pillars during the light year. Strong winds and radiations from young, massive stars destroy all but the densest clumps of dust, leaving these pillars in their shadows – many pointing back to the center of the cluster. Lastly, you move to the top of the set of stars and search hundreds of the most gigantic stars known.
Visualization Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, J. Anderson et al. (STScI); Acknowledgment: The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), the Westerlund 2 Science Team, and the ES