NGC 3572 is an open cluster located in the Carina constellation in the southern hemisphere. The stars within NGC 3572 are relatively young, in astronomical terms, only a few million years old!
One fascinating aspect of NGC 3572 is the surrounding nebula, full of dust and gas clouds. Among these are the structures known as the Southern Tadpoles, which are two large, dense pillars of gas and dust stretching towards the cluster. They earned their name due to their striking tadpole-like shapes.
These Tadpoles are notable due to their size (each is several light years long), and because they’re likely stellar nurseries, where new stars are being born. The process of star birth often occurs in dense gas regions like these, where gravity pulls the gas and dust together until a star forms.
On display here is a 3D animated interpretation of NGC 3572, commonly known as The Southern Tadpoles, accompanied by an original music score. This multimedia creation adds a unique sensory dimension to the enjoyment of astrophotography, pairing captivating celestial visuals with engaging auditory elements.
NGC 3572, an open star cluster in the constellation of Carina, has been animated in 3D using parallax data from the Gaia mission to determine the stars’ actual positions in space. After plate-solving the original image and annotating it using the Gaia DR3 catalogue in PixInsight, the resulting data was exported to a text file.
A custom Python script was then utilized to read the text file, calculate each star’s distance based on its parallax, and create separate layers for each star. After importing these layers, along with the starless image of the nebula, into After Effects, the stars and nebula were positioned according to their true ‘Z’ coordinates, forming a three-dimensional scene.
An automated camera animation was then applied to this 3D scene to generate the captivating motion seen in the video. In a delightful fusion of visuals and sound, the animation is paired with original music that was previously composed for another project. Although this music wasn’t originally written for this animation, it beautifully complements the animated journey through the Southern Tadpoles.
This project serves as a prelude to a forthcoming series of similar works, featuring 3D animations of astronomical objects accompanied by music composed specifically for each piece. By combining astronomy, animation, and music, this multimedia approach offers a novel and immersive way to experience the wonders of our universe.