Only 25,000 light-years away, the Quintuplet Cluster is one of the Milky Way’s most spectacular sights. The cluster is akin to a cosmic kindergarten—full of young, brightly shining stars. This area of space is also very densely packed, with stars located within punching distance of each other.
And with such short distances between them, they’ve whipped up an incendiary gaseous cocktail that reaches temperatures of 50 million degrees Celsius (90 million °F).
The cluster is also located precariously close to the center of the galaxy, where supergiant black hole Sagittarius A gobbles up matter with alarming voracity.
Even though the QC is the most massive, dense, and luminous cluster in our galaxy, it’s rendered practically invisible by the sheer amount of debris in the way.
The center of the Milky Way is obscured by patches of white-hot gas and dust. Thus, the Quintuplet Cluster remained hidden until 1990 when astronomers were able to peer through the shroud using infrared imaging.
But just like the McRib and the dodo, the Quintuplet Cluster is only available for a limited time; being a short walk away from the galactic center, it will soon be torn apart by gravitational fury. So grab your most potent infrared telescope and enjoy the view while it lasts (for another million years).