On a regular basis, the Hubble Space Telescope releases spectacular images, from incredible spiral galaxies and galactic oddballs to gorgeous pictures of the planets in our solar system and images that may give you a feeling of déjà vu.
This new star-studded image shows Terzan 9, a globular cluster in the constellation Sagittarius, towards the center of the Milky Way. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured this glittering scene using its Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys. Other stunning Hubble images featuring globular clusters include Ruprecht 106, NGC 6717, NGC 6496, NGC 362, Liller 1, NGC 6535, NGC 1755, Terzan 1, Messier 5, Messier 15, and IC 4499.
Globular clusters are stable, tightly bound groupings of tens of thousands to millions of stars. As this image demonstrates, the hearts of globular clusters can be densely packed with stars; the night sky in this image is strewn with so many stars that it resembles a sea of sequins or a vast treasure chest crammed with gold.
This starry snapshot is from a Hubble program investigating globular clusters located towards the heart of the Milky Way. The central region of our home galaxy contains a tightly packed group of stars known as the Galactic bulge, which is also rich in interstellar dust. This dust has made globular clusters near the Galactic center difficult to study, as it absorbs starlight and can even change the apparent colors of the stars in these clusters. Hubble’s sensitivity at both visible and infrared wavelengths has allowed astronomers to measure how the colors of these globular clusters have been changed by interstellar dust, and thereby establish their ages.