The NGC 2547 Cluster And Its Hot, Blue Babies

2013


The NGC 2547 Cluster And Its Hot, Blue Babies

28 March 2013

We know that our galaxy, the Milky Way, is home to billions of stars, with the oldest known being more than 13 billion years old. Although the birth of the first stars was a few billion years ago, there is still hot action out there and more to expect from our galaxy, as new objects appear all the time while others disappear for good.

One of the newer objects in our galaxy is the NGC 2547 cluster of stars. It is located in the southern constellation of Vela and was discovered by French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille in 1751 during an expedition to South Africa, with the aid of a small telescope. Many of the stars in the cluster glow bright blue, which is indicative of their early period of existence, but one or two yellow or red stars that have already become red giants can be spotted as well. Blue is typically an indicator of hot, young stars, but how young exactly are those inhabiting the NGC 2547 cloud?

It cannot be said precisely when these stars first appeared, but according to astronomers they are between 20 million and 35 million years old. By comparison, the Sun was formed about 4600 million years ago and is not even in the middle of its life. The Phys.org science news service compares our Sun with a 40-year-old person, while the stars in the NGC 2547 cluster would be three-month-old infants.

NGC 2547 is an open star cluster, which means that its lifespan will be relatively short and it will exist just a few hundred million years.