Nasa releases spectacular image of a 'Christmas tree' in space

The triangle-shaped constellation resembles popular festive staple that is decorated in homes around the world

NGC 2264, also known as the 'Christmas Tree Cluster' can be found in the Milk Way, about 2,500 light-years from Earth. Photo: Nasa
Powered by automated translation

US space agency Nasa has released a spectacular image of a formation in space shaped like a Christmas tree.

The formation, named the Christmas Tree Cluster, has a faint triangle-shape and stems making its structure resemble the popular festive staple that is decorated in homes around the world.

Researchers at Nasa compiled renderings using data from telescopes – including the agency's own Chandra X-ray Observatory and the National Science Foundation WIYN – to show the cluster in a bright green colour.

They also used infrared data from the Two Micron All Sky Survey, an astronomical survey of the sky in infrared light, to animate the stars within the cluster with glowing white and blue dots that resemble baubles.

According to Nasa, the nebula – a cloud of dust and gas in space – is situated about 2,500 light-years away from Earth in the Milky Way Galaxy.

"The stars in NGC 2264 are both smaller and larger than the Sun, ranging from some with less than a tenth the mass of the Sun to others containing seven solar masses," Nasa said.

The Christmas Tree Cluster is located in the constellation Monoceros and is part of the star-forming region NGC 2264, which also contains the Cone Nebula, the Fox Fur Nebula and the Snowflake Cluster.

It was discovered by the German-born British astronomer William Herschel on January 18, 1784.

There are also numerous constellations that resemble shapes and animals, including the Scorpius constellation which is shaped like a scorpion and is one of the brightest constellations in the night sky.

Christmas services around the world – in pictures

Updated: December 25, 2023, 7:50 AM