Hubble celebrates the Fourth of July with a gorgeous cosmic fireworks show

Although these aren't fireworks, they look great.A new Hubble image from NASA and ESA is available to kick-off the celebrations as we approach Independence Day weekend in America. Although fireworks aren't really possible in space, large star clusters such as this one look great.This week's Picture of the Week shows the NGC 330 open star cluster, located around 180,000 light years away in the Small Magellanic Cloud. The Tucana constellation (The Toucan), contains many stars. Many of these stars are scattered throughout this stunning image. This image's most striking object is the small cluster of stars in the lower left corner. It is surrounded by a nebula filled with ionised hydrogen (red), and dust (blue). The cluster, named GALFOR 1, was found in Hubble's archive data in 2018. This data was used to create the latest Hubble image. Scientists will need to use high-resolution infrared imagery taken by the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope to better understand the star cluster. This image contains clues about Hubble's inner workings. These diffraction spikes, which are criss-crossing patterns around the stars in the image, were formed when starlight collided with four thin vanes that support Hubble's secondary mirror. Star clusters are formed from one primordial cloud of gas, dust and stars. All the stars in them are approximately the same age. These star clusters are useful natural laboratories for astronomers who want to study how stars evolve and form. This image is based on observations taken by Hubbles Widefield Camera 3 and includes data from two different astronomical investigations. The first was to discover why stars in star clusters evolve differently than stars elsewhere. This peculiarity was first discovered by the Hubble Space telescope. The second was to find out how big stars can get before they die in supernova explosions. Links Video of A Scattering of Stars Credit to ESA/Hubble & NASA J. Kalirai, A. MiloneNGC 330 is the star cluster. This bright area of space is located approximately 180,000 light years from Earth. It's situated inside a dwarf galaxy called the Small Magellanic Cloud. Although it is one of the Milky Way's closest neighbors, it has only hundreds of million stars to its own approximately 100 billion.Like most Hubble imagery, this image is actually a composite. It combines a scene taken by the satellite's Wide Field Camera 3 and "data from two very distinct astronomical investigations". These investigations, which looked at how cluster stars evolve differently from non-cluster star stars, as well as how large stars can get before they explode in supernovae.The stars in this cluster are all approximately the same age. This is due to the way star clusters form. It's also why these celestial bodies are often used as research targets. However, the lens flare-like patterns that you see coming from some stars are not a natural phenomenon. It's actually a gift from Hubble.NASA's blog notes that "the crisscross patterns around the stars in the image, known as Diffraction Spikes," were created when starlight interacted and the four thin vanes supporting Hubbles Secondary Mirror.