Pismis 24 (Core Cluster of NGC 6357 "Lobster" or "War and Peace" Nebula)

Distance: 8000 light years

Constellation: Scorpius



Located near the famous "Cat Paw" nebula (NGC 6334), the Stellar Cluster Pismis 24 lies at the core of NGC 6357. Its stars include some of the most massive stellar behemoths known. One of the brightest stars in the cluster, Pismis 24-1, was thought possibly to be the most massive on record, approaching 300 solar masses, until it was discovered by the Hubble Telescope to be a triple star, with large components exceeding 100 solar masses. Several of the other central stars also exceed 100 solar masses. The nebulosity visible in the image shows the effects of intense radiation which has sculpted the clouds into curious shapes. Massive protostars, invisible to optical telescopes, lie hidden within the gas and dust of the region.