From IAC via Manu: “The splendor of the Seven Sisters”

Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

The universe around us.
Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.


Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias – IAC

Pleiades labeled. Credit: Daniel López.
This image of star cluster of the Pleiades is the fifth photograph obtained with Astrograph of the Communication and Scientific Culture of the IAC, installed in the Obsevatorio del Teide, under the “Niépce: from negative to positive” Project and will be part of the exhibition “100 square Moons”

Teide Observatory in Tenerife Spain, home of two 40 cm LCO,telescopes, Altitude 2,390 m (7,840 ft)

“And it came to going by where the seven goats are, and God and my soul like me in my childhood went on my cabrerizo earth, and saw them, gave me a desire to entertain them for a while, that If you do not comply I think that burst “- Chapter XLI of the Second Part of Don Quixote in which Sancho describes the Pleiades, during his imaginary journey through the sky with Don Quixote astride Clavileño.

The stars are not born alone, but families of hundreds, thousands or millions of members from a colossal cloud of gas and dust that are forming clumps of matter will eventually resulting in bodies of all sizes, from stars giants, dozens of times larger than the Sun, small asteroids or tiny clumps of dust, through all kinds of exoplanets.

These groups are a critical clue to understanding the universe, as the star of a star cluster have the same chemical composition, the same age and a similar location among them being exceptional laboratory to confirm theories of stellar evolution, determine distances Cosmos and define with great precision many other physical properties.

Stars are spheres of material (plasma) in balance between two opposing forces: the gravity (which is contracting) and nuclear fusion energy (that is expand). Throughout life, stars fuse light atoms (such as hydrogen) into heavier (helium, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen), producing a large amount of energy at high temperatures allows them to shine. But bigger stars burn their fuel at a much faster rate than smaller, so they die earlier. Thus, determine the mass of the larger star who still lives in a star cluster allows us to date his age.

The Pleiades are one of the star groups or asterisms nearest and easily identifiable in the sky, located in the constellation Taurus. They are also known as “The Seven Sisters” or the Seven Sisters (M45, Messier 45) , because they are the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, converted by Zeus in pigeons and then into stars to escape the constant harassment of Orion as Greek mythology. Although this cluster owns more than a thousand stars of all sizes, we can only identify between seven and nine stars with the naked eye, depending on the visual sensitivity of each observer and sky light pollution. The Pleiades are about eight times higher than the sun and its brightness is a thousand times greater than our star. However, using telescopes we can see much fainter stars because of its proximity (about 440 light years away), and even objects to the boundary between what is a very small star and a giant planet. In 1995, it was confirmed for the first time since the Observatorio del Teide (Izaña, Tenerife) the existence of a brown dwarf star in this star cluster, which Teide-1 was called in recognition of the place where it was discovered. Today we believe that 25% of existing stars can share these features, but only represent 2% of the total mass of the stars.

The mass of the biggest stars present in the star cluster Messier 45 indicate a relative young age, about 120 million years. When the triple, the cluster stars have left the nest where they were born, going to blend into the anonymity offered by the hundred billion stars that make up our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Daniel Lopez / IAC.

See the full article here.

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The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias(IAC) is an international research centre in Spain which comprises:

The Instituto de Astrofísica, the headquarters, which is in La Laguna (Tenerife).
The Centro de Astrofísica en La Palma (CALP)
The Observatorio del Teide (OT), in Izaña (Tenerife).
The Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM), in Garafía (La Palma).

Roque de los Muchachos Observatory is an astronomical observatory located in the municipality of Garafía on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, at an altitude of 2,396 m (7,861 ft)

These centres, with all the facilities they bring together, make up the European Northern Observatory(ENO).

The IAC is constituted administratively as a Public Consortium, created by statute in 1982, with involvement from the Spanish Government, the Government of the Canary Islands, the University of La Laguna and Spain’s Science Research Council (CSIC).

The International Scientific Committee (CCI) manages participation in the observatories by institutions from other countries. A Time Allocation Committee (CAT) allocates the observing time reserved for Spain at the telescopes in the IAC’s observatories.

The exceptional quality of the sky over the Canaries for astronomical observations is protected by law. The IAC’s Sky Quality Protection Office (OTPC) regulates the application of the law and its Sky Quality Group continuously monitors the parameters that define observing quality at the IAC Observatories.

The IAC’s research programme includes astrophysical research and technological development projects.

The IAC is also involved in researcher training, university teaching and outreachactivities.

The IAC has devoted much energy to developing technology for the design and construction of a large 10.4 metre diameter telescope, the ( Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC), which is sited at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos.

Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, SpainGran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC