Picture of the Day: This Star Cluster is 12 Billion Years Old
THIS STAR CLUSTER IS
12 BILLION YEARS OLD
[NASA/ESA] – This cluster of stars is known as Messier 15, and is located some 35 000 light-years away in the constellation of Pegasus (The Winged Horse). It is one of the oldest globular clusters known, with an age of around 12 billion years.
Both very hot blue stars and cooler golden stars can be seen swarming together in the image, becoming more concentrated towards the cluster’s bright centre. Messier 15 is one of the densest globular clusters known, with most of its mass concentrated at its core. As well as stars, Messier 15 was the first cluster known to host a planetary nebula, and it has been found to have a rare type of black hole at its centre.
This new image is made up of observations from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys in the ultraviolet, infrared, and optical parts of the spectrum. To see the full 3749 x 4028 px image, visit spacetelescope.org
A globular cluster is a spherical collection of stars that orbits a galactic core as a satellite. Globular clusters are very tightly bound by gravity, which gives them their spherical shapes and relatively high stellar densities toward their centers. There are currently 150 – 158 known globular clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy alone. [Source]