Chandra X-Ray Telescope Snaps a Detailed Picture of Westerlund 1.

NASA's Chandra X-ray telescope has captured a highly detailed image of Westerlund 1, the biggest and closest super star cluster to our solar system. Westerlund 1 is a stellar powerhouse, churning out stars at an incredible rate. It's a young cluster, only 3 to 5 million years old, and is a mere 13,000 light-years away, making it practically next door in galactic terms.

The Chandra image reveals a breathtaking view of this colossal stellar factory. The telescope's ability to detect X-rays unveils the superheated gas surrounding the cluster's countless stars. Chandra's data also helped astronomers identify a surprising density of stars within the core of Westerlund 1. Over 1,000 stars are crammed into a region just 4 light-years wide, showcasing just how tightly packed this stellar nursery is.

This newfound information about Westerlund 1 will help scientists better understand the formation of stars in super star clusters and how these extreme environments influence stellar evolution. By studying Westerlund 1, astronomers can peer back in time to a period when our own galaxy, the Milky Way, was in its prime star-forming years.

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