MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
An impression of a fictitious open cluster seen from a vantage point within it. Two of the members stars, perhaps a binary, are seen up close. Stars are quite often not born individually, but in larger collectives called open clusters. This is a natural consequence of the process of star formation from giant molecular clouds. As the cluster orbits the Milky Way, gravitational tugs along the way, exerted by passing stars, gradually loosen and unravel the cluster, eventually leading to its dispersal. For this reason, open clusters tend to be younger then a few hundred million years old.
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