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Christine Pulliam
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Press Release

Release No.: 2005-40For Release: Thursday, December 22, 2005
A Holiday Gift from Space: Spitzer Photographs Christmas Tree Cluster
NGC 2264 (Christmas Tree cluster)
CfA astronomers Paula Teixeira and Charles Lada are offering the world a spectacular holiday gift: this new image of the Christmas Tree cluster taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The Christmas Tree cluster was nicknamed by amateur astronomers for its appearance through small telescopes, which show a triangular outline of stars like a tree bedecked by dazzling holiday lights. The new infrared image reveals a different view: ribbons of gas and dust swirling like snow blowing in frigid winter winds and adorned by a festive collection of brilliant stars. Teixeira andLada nicknamed the fan-shaped star cluster near the center of the image the Spokes Cluster, or Snowflake Cluster.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / P.S. Teixeira & C.J. Lada (CfA), E.T. Young (U. Arizona)
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NGC 2264 (Christmas Tree cluster)
The infrared vision of the Smithsonian-developed IRAC instrument shows a complex and breathtaking pattern of nebular emission that traces a massive molecular cloud from which the "Christmas Tree" cluster only recently formed.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / P.S. Teixeira & C.J. Lada (CfA)
High Resolution Image (jpg)
Low Resolution Image (jpg)
NGC 2264 (Christmas Tree Cluster)
Also known as NGC 2264, the Christmas Tree Cluster is an open cluster of stars embedded in a diffuse nebula. This image taken in visible light also contains two famous nebulae. At the bottom center of the image is the Cone Nebula, and to the upper left is the Fox Fur Nebula. When viewed upside-down, the entire cluster looks like a Christmas tree.
Low Resolution Image (jpg)
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