A Cathedral of Stellar Nativity

The star that is the brightest object located just above the gas cloud in the picture is Pismis 24. Estimates made from distance, brightness and standard solar models had estimated Pismis 24’s mass over 200 times that of our Sun, nearly making it the record holder. Close inspection of images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, however, have shown that Pismis 24-1 derives its brilliant luminosity not from a single star but from a group of at least three. The component stars would still remain near 100 solar masses, making them among the more massive stars currently on record. Toward the bottom of the image, stars are still forming in the associated emission nebula NGC 6357 which resembles a Gothic cathedral from Earth’s point of view.

Image Credit: NASA