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Merry Christmas from The Daily Galaxy --"The Christmas Tree Cluster"





The Cone Nebula, part of a much larger star-forming complex, is at bottom with inverted Christmas Tree cluster NGC 2264 above the cone; the bright star just above the cone is the tree topper and the very bright star at the top of the image is the center of the tree trunk. The Fox Fur Nebula is at the top right corner. 

The Snowflake nebula is in the middle which shows up better on the infrared image. The cone's shape comes from a dark absorption nebula consisting of cold molecular hydrogen and dust in front of a faint emission nebula containing hydrogen ionized by S Monocerotis, the brightest star of NGC 2264. The faint nebula is approximately seven light-years long, and is 2,700 light-years away from Earth.

Image credit: NASA/Hubble Space Telescope


The Christmas Tree Cluster contains about 40 stars. At the base of the cluster is its brightest member, S Mon also known as 15 Monocerotis, a bright blue-white variable star of magnitude 4.6 that is at least 8000 times as luminous as the Sun, and can be seen by the naked eye. The furry texture of the area next to this star is called the Fox Fur Nebula.

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