400 light-years

This compact cluster, visible during long nights of the northern winter, has entered the folklore of many cultures around the world. The grouping is not accidental, for these stars formed together about 100 million years ago and are bound to each other through gravity. As they drift around our Milky Way Galaxy, these stars have wandered into the outskirts of a dust cloud whose tiny grains reflect the stars' light and give the cluster its blue colour.

Credit: Anglo / Australian Observatory, David Malin.

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