This week’s image from the popular Hubble Space Telescope shows a dazzling cluster of stars gathered into a group known as globular clusters. This is a dense collection of stars held together by gravity, forming an approximate spherical shape, and made up of hundreds of thousands or even millions of stars.
This particular cluster is named ESO 520-21 and is also known as Palomar 6, after the Palomar Observatory in California, where it was discovered during a sky survey in the 1980s.
Taking this image was not easy because the cluster is near the center of our galaxy. There is a lot of matter floating in the central region of the galaxy, making it difficult to get a clear picture.
“A tightly packed, roughly spherical cluster of stars lies near the center of the Milky Way, where interstellar gas and dust absorb starlight and make observations more difficult,” said Hubble scientists to write.
“Interstellar absorption affects some wavelengths of light more than others and changes the colors of astronomical objects by making them appear redder than they actually are. Astronomers call this process “reddening,” and it makes it particularly difficult to determine the properties of globular clusters near the galactic center – such as ESO 520-21. “
This difficulty means that many questions about this cluster are difficult to answer. The researchers weren’t sure how old the cluster is or exactly how far away it is from us. Nor were they sure which heavier elements existed in what quantities.
But recently astronomers from the University of São Paulo in Brazil educated This cluster used both Hubble and the Very Large Telescope and found it to be 12.4 billion years old and 25,000 light years away.
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