The Berkeley 59 cluster, a cosmic rosebud

The Berkeley 59 cluster, a cosmic rosebud

The Berkeley 59 cluster, shown in this infrared image from NASA’s WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer), is a cluster of just a few million years old stars (the blue dots to the right of the image center). They are ripening out of the dust cloud from which they formed, what makes this region, that lies about 3,300 light-years away in the constellation Cepheus, look like a blossoming cosmic rosebud.

The rosebud-like red glow surrounding the hot, young stars is warm dust heated by the stars. Green “leafy” nebulosity enfolds the cluster, showing the edges of the dense, dusty cloud. This green material is from heated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, molecules that can be found on Earth in barbecue pits, exhaust pipes and other places where combustion has occurred.

Red sources within the green nebula indicate a second generation of stars forming at the surface of the natal cloud, possibly as a consequence of heating and compression from the younger stars.

The opening in the nebula was caused by the supernova remnant NGC 7822, blowing a hole in the cloud leaving behind this floral remnant.
Blue dots sprinkled throughout are foreground stars in our Milky Way galaxy.

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