NGC 1333
Image of new born stars within NGC 1333 captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. ESA/Hubble & NASA, K. Stapelfeldt

The European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shared an impressive photo featuring newborn stars in a distant nebula. Since stars within this region appear in clusters, the space agencies comically referred to them as teams in a cosmic soccer match. The latest photo captured by Hubble features the region identified as NGC 1333.

As a large nebula, this area is a massive cloud filled with gas and dust that spark star formations. As per the ESA, NGC 1333 can be spotted within the Perseus constellation and is situated about 1,000 light-years from Earth. The space telescope's latest photo showcases two groups of stars that were formed recently. The agency estimated that these stars were born less than two million years ago. Since the light from these stars is reflected by the nebula onto the other cosmic objects in the surrounding areas, NGC 1333 has been classified as a reflection nebula.

"The cool gas and dust concentrated in this region are generating new stars whose light is then reflecting off the surrounding material, lighting it up and making this object's lingering presence known to us," the ESA explained in a statement. "NGC 1333 is accordingly classified as a reflection nebula."

Crab Nebula
Foreground asteroid passing the Crab Nebula ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Thévenot @AstroMelina

The latest image shared by Hubble only shows a small area within NGC 1333. In previous photos taken by the space telescope, other star-forming regions can be spotted within the nebula. In one of these photos, which was taken last year, evidence of the star-formation process within NGC 1333 can be seen within the image. As per the ESA, the evidence, which appears as wispy traces of gas and dust usually move away from the stars that created them at speeds of up to 2,50,000 kilometres per hour.

Like in other star-formation regions within NGC 1333, the new batch of stars photographed by Hubble appears in clusters. Because of their appearance, the ESA referred to them as teams participating in a cosmic soccer game, which the agency named as the Champions League. "This image shows just a single region of NGC 1333," ESA stated. "Hubble has imaged NGC 1333 more widely before, revealing that the smattering of stars seen here has ample company. Seen in a broader context, this team of stars is but one gathering amongst many in NGC 1333's celestial Champions League."