Hubble Space Telescope: Starstruck in Terzan 4

Globular Cluster Terzan 4

Hubble Space Telescope of globular cluster Terzan 4. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Cohen

A glittering multitude of stars in the globular cluster Terzan 4 fills this image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Globular clusters are collections of stars bound together by their mutual gravitational attraction, and can contain millions of individual stars. As this image shows, the heart of a globular cluster such as Terzan 4 is a densely packed, crowded field of stars — which makes for spectacular images!

The study of globular clusters was revolutionized by the launch of Hubble in 1990. That’s because the individual stars in these dense crowds are almost impossible to distinguish from one another with ground-based telescopes. However, they can be picked apart using the precise imaging of space telescopes. Astronomers have taken advantage of Hubble’s crystal-clear vision to study the stars making up globular clusters, as well as how these systems change over time.

This particular observation comes from astronomers using Hubble to explore Terzan 4 and other globular clusters in order to understand the shape, density, age, and structure of globular clusters close to the center of the Milky Way. Unlike globular clusters elsewhere in the sky, these globular clusters have evaded detailed observation because of the clouds of gas and dust swirling around the galactic core. These clouds blot out starlight in a process that astronomers refer to as ‘extinction’, which complicates astronomical observations.

Astronomers took advantage of the sensitivity of two of Hubble’s instruments — the Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3 — to overcome the impact of extinction on Terzan 4. By combining Hubble imagery with sophisticated data processing, astronomers were able to determine the ages of galactic globular clusters to within a billion years — a relatively accurate measurement in cosmic terms!

4 Comments on "Hubble Space Telescope: Starstruck in Terzan 4"

  1. Incredible views!

  2. Yah this image convinced me of the saying “there are more stars/galaxies in the Universe than the total number of san grains in ALL beaches on Earth”, but still wondering @ its accuracy. 😀

  3. You can see that far and still you can’t see no UFO sightings

  4. It’s hard to fathom that each each of these points of light are lightyears away from one another. You have to remember the view goes from front to back rather than left to right visually speaking.

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.