Nasa has shared a new image showcasing what looks like a "snow globe", which is actually a blizzard of gravitationally bound distant stars forming a massive globular cluster.
The mesmerising image, created using years of Hubble observations, shows globular star cluster Messier 79 (M79). This cluster is as far away as 41,000 light-years from the Earth in constellation Lepus and features some of the oldest stars in the universe, some of which are as old as 11.7 billion years.
As the gargantuan star cluster appears like a swirling snowstorm, Nasa refers to it as a "snow globe". The cluster was discovered in 1780 by Pierre Méchain but is named after Charles Messier – the person the finding was originally attributed to.
The latest photo, according to the space agency, shows as many as one million stars in full glow. However, the area of particular interest is the central region which consists of as many as 150,000 stars, all gravitationally knit together, covering a relatively small area of about 118 light-years.
The stars highlighted in yellow are the ones that are more similar to our Sun, while those in red are giants that are closing towards the end of their lives.
Among the blue stars scattered across most of the image, the brighter ones are those burning elements like helium, while the faint ones are those formed by the merger of binary systems or unrelated stars.