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Cosmic Tour: Westerlund 2

The star cluster Westerlund 2 contains some of the hottest, brightest, and most massive stars in the Milky Way galaxy.


Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Sonoma State University

  • Still image of Westerlund 2 courtesy of NASA, ESA, the Hubble HeritageTeam (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team

  • Zoom-in to Westerlund 2 with 3-D visualization courtesy of NASA, ESA, G. Bacon, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (Viz3D Team, STScI), and J. Anderson (STScI)

  • Written by Margaret Carruthers

  • Designed by

  • Music courtesy of Associated Production Music



 Text, Cosmic Tour, Westerlund 2 

Deep in the constellation Carina, twenty thousand light-years away, a cluster of young stars illuminates a nebula of gas and dust. 

10 light-years over 3.1 parsecs 

The star cluster, known as Westerlund 2, contains some of the hottest, brightest, and most massive stars in the Milky Way galaxy. 

Intense ultraviolet radiation and winds of charged particles streaming from the stars are eroding the surrounding gas into pillars, ridges, and valleys. 

Lines and text highlight the locations of Gas and Dust, Star Cluster, Pillars and Ridges, and Foreground Stars, 

Lines around the shape of Crux, Musca, Carina and Vela. Text, Ground-based image (A. Fujuii) visible light 

Digitized Sky Survey 2, visible light 

Hubble Space Telescope, visible light 

Hubble Space Telescope, 3-D model