NASA shows off patriotic Hubble space image for holiday weekend

NASA regularly shares notable space images from its collections and it often selects ones that seem to follow a general theme for the season, such as the big 'pumpkin patch' image it shared around Halloween last year. This time around, the space agency has a 'patriotic' red, white, and blue space image to go with the Independence Day holiday weekend.

The latest image features NGC 330, an open star cluster located in the Small Magellanic Cloud about 180,000 light-years from Earth. The blanket of stars is found in the Tucana constellation where they lie spread out across the sky in multiple clusters. Of note, NASA says these stars are all around the same size, providing a unique image.

The Hubble Space Telescope was able to observe this section of the sky using its Wide Field Camera 3; two "very different" observations were assembled together to form this image, according to NASA. The end result is a large photo of stars that appear multi-colored on a black canvas, including many that blue-colored contrasted with some white stars and a smudge of red.

NASA points out that these star clusters all formed from the same primordial gas and dust cloud, making them all around the same age. As such, astronomers can use these "natural laboratories" to investigate the evolution and formation of stars. That's how NASA acquired two sets of data from two different investigations of the region.

You likely noticed the X-shaped pattern emanating from the center of these stars. NASA explains that this unique feature, which gives the stars an almost Christmas light-like appearance, is the result of Hubble's construction, specifically the four vanes that support its secondary mirror.