Hubble sees cosmic riches

Oct 07, 2012
Credit: ESA/NASA

(Phys.org)—This dazzling image shows the globular cluster Messier 69, or M 69 for short, as viewed through the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Globular clusters are dense collections of old stars. In this picture, foreground stars look big and golden when set against the backdrop of the thousands of white, silvery stars that make up M 69.

Another aspect of M 69 lends itself to the bejeweled metaphor: As go, M 69 is one of the most metal-rich on record. In astronomy, the term "metal" has a specialized meaning: it refers to any element heavier than the two most common elements in our Universe, hydrogen and helium. The nuclear fusion that powers stars created all of the in nature, from the calcium in our bones to the carbon in diamonds. Successive generations of stars have built up the metallic abundances we see today.

Because the stars in globular clusters are ancient, their metallic abundances are much lower than more recently formed stars, such as the Sun. Studying the makeup of stars in globular clusters like M 69 has helped astronomers trace back the evolution of the cosmos.

M 69 is located 29 700 light-years away in the (the Archer). The famed French comet hunter Charles Messier added M 69 to his catalogue in 1780. It is also known as NGC 6637.

The image is a combination of exposures taken in visible and near-infrared light by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, and covers a field of view of approximately 3.4 by 3.4 arcminutes.

Explore further: Image: Chandra's view of the Tycho Supernova remnant

Related Stories

Hubble sees Messier 70: Tight and bright

Apr 13, 2012

(Phys.org) -- In this image, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the brilliance of the compact center of Messier 70, a globular cluster. Quarters are always tight in globular clusters, where the ...

Hubble has an audience of stellar flashbulbs

Jul 23, 2012

(Phys.org) -- The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a crowd of stars that looks rather like a stadium darkened before a show, lit only by the flashbulbs of the audience’s cameras. Yet the many ...

Hubble captures a collection of ancient stars

Aug 27, 2012

(Phys.org)—The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has produced this beautiful image of the globular cluster Messier 56 (also known as M 56 or NGC 6779), which is located about 33,000 light years away from ...

VISTA views a vast ball of stars

May 09, 2012

(Phys.org) -- A new image of Messier 55 from ESO's VISTA infrared survey telescope shows tens of thousands of stars crowded together like a swarm of bees. Besides being packed into a relatively small space, ...

A cluster with a secret

Sep 05, 2012

(Phys.org)—A new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the spectacular globular star cluster Messier 4. This ball of tens of thousands of ancient stars is one of the closest and most studied ...

Glittering jewels of Messier 9

Mar 16, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has produced the most detailed image so far of Messier 9, a globular star cluster located close to the center of the galaxy. This ball of stars is too faint ...

Recommended for you

Image: Chandra's view of the Tycho Supernova remnant

Jul 25, 2014

More than four centuries after Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe first observed the supernova that bears his name, the supernova remnant it created is now a bright source of X-rays. The supersonic expansion of ...

Satellite galaxies put astronomers in a spin

Jul 24, 2014

An international team of researchers, led by astronomers at the Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg (CNRS/Université de Strasbourg), has studied 380 galaxies and shown that their small satellite galaxies almost always ...

Video: The diversity of habitable zones and the planets

Jul 24, 2014

The field of exoplanets has rapidly expanded from the exclusivity of exoplanet detection to include exoplanet characterization. A key step towards this characterization is the determination of which planets occupy the Habitable ...

User comments : 0