Hubble views the globular cluster M10

Hubble views the globular cluster M10
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

(Phys.org) -- Like many of the most famous objects in the sky, globular cluster Messier 10 was of little interest to its discoverer. Charles Messier, the 18th century French astronomer, cataloged over 100 galaxies and clusters, but was primarily interested in comets. Through the telescopes available at the time, comets, nebulae, globular clusters and galaxies appeared just as faint, diffuse blobs and could easily be confused for one another.

Only by carefully observing their motion — or lack of it — were astronomers able to distinguish them: comets move slowly relative to the stars in the background, while other more distant astronomical objects do not move at all.

Messier’s decision to catalog all the objects that he could find, and that were not comets, was a pragmatic solution which would have a huge impact on astronomy. His catalog of just over 100 objects includes many of the most famous objects in the night sky. Messier 10, seen here in an image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space , is one of them. Messier described it in the very first edition of his catalog, which was published in 1774 and included the first 45 objects he identified.

Messier 10 is a ball of stars that lies about 15,000 light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer). Approximately 80 light-years across, it should therefore appear about two thirds the size of the moon in the night . However, its outer regions are extremely diffuse, and even the comparatively bright core is too dim to see with the naked eye.

Hubble, which has no problems seeing faint objects, has observed the brightest part of the center of the cluster in this image, a region which is about 13 light-years across.

This image is made up of observations made in visible and infrared light using Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. The observations were carried out as part of a major Hubble survey of in the Milky Way.

A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Image Processing Competition by contestant flashenthunder. Hidden Treasures is an initiative to invite astronomy enthusiasts to search the Hubble archive for stunning images that have never been seen by the general public. The competition has now closed and the results will be published soon.


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Jun 26, 2012
What keeps these clusters from collapsing in on themselves? I have heard they rotate but I have not seen any evidence of that.

Jun 26, 2012
They swirling and orbitin' each other like the bees. When a star passes near a binary system, the orbit of the latter pair tends to contract, releasing energy. The dynamical heating effect of binary star systems works to prevent an initial collapse of the cluster. Only after the primordial supply of binaries are exhausted due to interactions can a deeper core collapse proceed. About 20% of the globular clusters have undergone a process termed "core collapse". In this type of cluster, the luminosity continues to increase steadily all the way to the core region.

Jun 26, 2012
While that could be a possible explanation where is the evidence? We should observe a difference in the red-shift of the stars in these cluster. I have never read any red-shift differences in these stars in these cluster to support the swarming bee explanation. Supply me a link please.

Jun 27, 2012
What keeps these clusters from collapsing in on themselves? I have heard they rotate but I have not seen any evidence of that.

Some rotate, some do not. They are gravitationally bound systems. A globular cluster of stars will remain spherical for very long periods of time - longer even than the current age of the universe.

It is thought that they formed when large clouds of gas collapse and form stars very quickly. The stars do not interact strongly on short timescales - the time between collisions is in the order 10^10 years. So the system as a whole cannot readily radiate away its energy and momentum, which is what keeps it in stable spherical configurations (unless perturbed by other bodies, like passing galaxies, etc).

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