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Stellar Picture: Young Stars Sparkle in the Cosmic Dust

In this image from the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile young stars huddle together against a backdrop of clouds of glowing gas and lanes of dust. European Southern Observatory

A family of bright young stars group together against a background of glowing clouds in a new photo from an observatory in the Southern Hemisphere.

Located about 8,000 light-years from Earth, many stars of the star cluster NGC 3293 shine in blue with red clouds of gas and dust framing the image released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Wednesday. NGC 3293 would have just been a cloud of dust about 10 million years ago, according to ESO officials. You can fly through the image of the star cluster taken by ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile in a new video of the star cluster from the astronomy organization.

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"Most of the stars seen here are very young, and the cluster itself is less than 10 million years old," ESO officials said in a photo description. "Just babies on cosmic scales if you consider that the sun is 4.6 billion years old and still only middle-aged."

Star clusters like NGC 3293 are known as open clusters. These kinds of cosmic formations are thought to evolve from a huge cloud of molecular gas, according to ESO.

The stars are held in their spots by gravitational attraction, but if the cluster passes too close to other clusters or clouds, it's possible that attraction will be overcome and stars will separate from the cluster.

"Open clusters will only last a few hundred million years, unlike their big cousins, the globular clusters, which can survive for billions of years, and hold on to far more stars," ESO officials said.

— Miriam Kramer, Space.com

This is a condensed version of a report by Space.com. Read the full report. Follow Miriam Kramer @mirikramer and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+.