Friday, May 2, 2008

The Moon and Pleiades

Lune + Pleiades
Originally uploaded by ComputerHotline
The Pleiades, also known as M45, the Seven Sisters, SED, or Subaru (in Japan), is an open cluster in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest star clusters, and is probably the best known, and is certainly the most obvious to the naked eye. It is sometimes referred to as the Maia Nebula, perhaps erroneously considering that the reflection nebulosity surrounding Maia is intrinsic.

The cluster is dominated by hot blue stars which have formed within the last 100 million years. Dust that forms a faint reflection nebulosity around the brightest stars was thought at first to be left over from the formation of the cluster, but is now known to be an unrelated dust cloud that the stars are currently passing through. Astronomers estimate that the cluster will survive for about another 250 million years, after which it will have dispersed due to gravitational interactions with its galactic neighborhood.