There are other places this year where you can find a big, glittering green Christmas tree. It's not just in your living room. For the holidays, NASA has located a location in space with a glowing cosmic tree.
The object in question is called NGC 2264, or the "Christmas Tree Cluster." It is a group of young stars between the ages of one and five million years old, some of which are larger than the sun. According to NASA, the cluster is located about 2,500 light-years from Earth in the Milky Way.
NGC 2264 appears to have blue and white sparkling lights and a bright green glow, akin to a Christmas tree, according to a composite image of the star cluster released by NASA. But the green glow is actually gas, not string lights and pine needles, and the blue and white sparkles are X-rays from young stars. NASA stated that the blue and white dots were arranged in this way "to emphasise the locations of the stars...and highlight the similarity of this object to a Christmas tree," rather than blinking in unison as shown in the composite.
"We're calling MACS0416 the Christmas Tree Galaxy Cluster, both because it's so colourful and because of these flickering lights we find within it," said astronomer Haojing Yan, one of the study authors. "We can see transients everywhere."
The cluster image is one of the "unprecedented" deep views of the universe that shows what is thought to be an ancient star known as "Mothra" that existed 11 billion years ago, long before our solar system's sun formed.