Peering deep into the Carina Nebula, a giant interstellar cloud of gas and dust, the Hubble Space Telescope caught a glimpse of the bright young stars found in the star cluster Trumpler 14. The Hubble photo released Thursday features 2,000 bright stars glittering like diamonds.
The Carina Nebula is a perfect nursery for young stars. The ample mix of gas and dust leads to increased star formation activity. Within the nebula lies Trumpler 14, an open cluster loosely bound together by gravity.
Cosmically speaking, the the 500,000-year-old star cluster is extremely young. Trumpler 14 is the largest and youngest star cluster in the Carina Nebula. Among the highlights in the Hubble photo is HD 93129Aa, a supergiant star that's 80 times more massive and 2.5 million times brighter than the sun. HD 92129Aa is part of a binary star system, orbiting HD 93129Ab.
Trumpler 14's young stars are entering their troublemaking phase of development. The incredibly hot stars have strong winds acting as bulldozers to the surrounding dust and gas. The wind hits surrounding material causing a shockwave to spread through the cluster that's equal parts beneficial and destructive. The wind and shockwave pushes gas and dust away from these stars, but causes new clusters of material to form. These packed areas of material lead to the birth of new stars.
Living this life as a star has some pretty dire consequences. A star like the sun can quietly evolve for billions of years before turning into a red giant. The sun would balloon in size as its fuel is exhausted before ending its life as a cool white dwarf. The sun will end in a whimper, not a bang, over 5 billion years in the future.
The stars in Trumpler 14 won't live to see middle age, let alone old age. The lifespan is estimated to be a few million years before the stars end their life as a supernova.