The image, from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, is a composite enhanced with rotation and color choices. Data from the WIYN telescope on Kitt Peak shows gas in the nebula as green to mimic pine needles. Data from the Two Micron All Sky Survey stars in the fore- and backgrounds are shown in white.
NASA does admit it created the coordinated blinking lights in its animation — “The variations of the stars are not synchronized,” they wrote — though young stars do undergo flares that can be “seen” as X-rays and other types of light.
The photo is also rotated about 150 degrees to give it a more conical tree shape and make it easier for viewers to see the image.
The rotation, NASA added, “doesn’t address the slight bare patch in the tree’s branches, at our lower right, which should probably be turned to the corner.”