JERRY LODRIGUSS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JERRY LODRIGUSS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Butterfly Cluster (M6, NGC 6405, upper right) with Ptolemy's Cluster (M7, NGC 6475, lower centre) and part of the Milky Way (brown band of stars). These objects are in the constellation of Scorpius. The clusters are open (or galactic) star clusters, and are groups of stars thought to form from the same nebula (cloud of gas and dust). The stars will eventually drift apart. It is thought that most of the stars making up the galactic plane formed in such clusters. The band of stars in the night sky (Milky Way) is the galactic plane seen from the inside. Each of these clusters of some 80 stars is a few million years old, 10-20 light years across, and less than 2000 light years distant.
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