July 18, 2024
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Most disordered globular cluster 79 | Earth Blog

Most disordered globular cluster 79

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of a blizzard of stars, resembling a swirling storm in a snowball.

These stars form the globular cluster Messier 79, located about 40,000 light years from Earth in the constellation of Lepus (The Hare). Globular clusters are gravitationally bound groupings of up to a million stars. These giant “star globes” contain some of the oldest stars in our galaxy. Messier 79 is no exception; It contains around 150,000 stars, grouped in an area that measures just about 120 light years in diameter.

This 11.7 billion-year-old star cluster was first discovered by French astronomer Pierre Méchain in 1780. Méchain reported the discovery to his colleague Charles Messier, who included it in his catalog of non-cometary objects: The Messier Catalog. About four years later, using a telescope larger than Messier's, William Herschel was able to resolve the stars in Messier 79 and described it as a “globular star cluster.”

In this bright Hubble image, Sun-like stars appear yellowish-white and reddish stars are bright giants in the final stages of their lives. Most of the blue stars scattered throughout the cluster are aging “helium-burning” stars, which have exhausted their hydrogen fuel and are now fusing helium in their cores.

Image credit: NASA and ESA, S. Djorgovski (Caltech) and F. Ferraro (University of Bologna)
Explanation from: https://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1751a/

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