Hubble Peers at 10 Billion Year Old Globular Cluster NGC 6752

globular-cluster-ngc-6752

These images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope showcase a globular cluster, NGC 6752, a spherical grouping of gravitationally bound celestial bodies that’s over 10 billion years old, which means that it’s 5 billion years older than our solar system and was formed only 3.75 billion years after the formation of the universe.

Currently, there are between 150 and 158 globular clusters in the Milky Way and NGC 6752 is one of the brightest and oldest. It contains a high number of blue straggler stars, some of which can be seen in the images. The stars display characteristics of stars that are younger than their neighbors, despite models suggesting that most of the stars within globular clusters should have been formed at the same time. This created somewhat of a quandary.

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More astronomical studies and computer modeling may shed light upon this situation. A high number of the stars in NGC 6752’s core region are binary systems, about 38%. Collisions between stars in this tumultuous and turbulent environment could produce these blues stragglers, but this hasn’t been confirmed as of yet.

NGC 6752 is 13,000 light-years away, in the constellation Pavo. It’s the third brightest in the sky after 47 Tucanae and Omega Centauri.

[via i09]

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