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Linda Vu
Staff, Infrared Processing and Analysis Center
The Seven Sisters, also known as the Pleiades star cluster, seem to float on a bed of feathers in this infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Clouds of dust sweep around the stars, swaddling them in a cushiony veil. The Pleiades, located more than 400 light-years away in the Taurus constellation, are the subject of many legends and writings. Greek mythology holds that the flock of stars was transformed into celestial doves by Zeus to save them from a pursuant Orion. Tennyson described them as "glittering like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid." The star cluster was born about 100 million years ago. The brightest members of the cluster, also the highest-mass stars, are known in Greek mythology as two parents, Atlas and Pleione, and their seven daughters, Alcyone, Electra, Maia, Merope, Taygeta, Celaeno and Asterope. The spider-web-like network of filaments in this image, colored yellow, green and red, is made up of dust associated with the cloud through which the cluster is traveling. The densest portion of the cloud appears in yellow and red, and the more diffuse outskirts are shown in green hues. Atlas can be seen at the bottom, while six of the sisters are visible at top. Additional stars in the cluster are sprinkled throughout the picture in blue. This image is made up of data taken by Spitzer's multiband imaging photometer and its infrared array camera. Light with a wavelength of 4.5 microns is blue; light of 8 microns is green; and light of 24 microns is red.

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    The 2008 Art of Science Competition was made possible by a grant from the Moore-Hufstedler Fund.

 

 

 

 

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