Image: Hubble catches galaxies swarmed by star clusters

Image: Hubble catches galaxies swarmed by star clusters
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

In the center of a rich cluster of galaxies located in the direction of the constellation of Coma Berenices, lies a galaxy surrounded by a swarm of star clusters. NGC 4874 is a giant elliptical galaxy, about ten times larger than the Milky Way, at the center of the Coma Galaxy Cluster. With its strong gravitational pull, it is able to hold onto more than 30,000 globular clusters of stars, more than any other galaxy that we know of, and even has a few dwarf galaxies in its grasp.

In this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, NGC 4874 is the brightest object, located to the right of the frame and seen as a bright star-like core surrounded by a hazy halo. A few of the other of the cluster are also visible, looking like flying saucers dancing around NGC 4874. But the really remarkable feature of this image is the point-like objects around NGC 4874, revealed on a closer look: almost all of them are clusters of stars that belong to the galaxy. Each of these globular star clusters contains many hundreds of thousands of stars.

Recently, astronomers discovered that a few of these point-like objects are not but ultra-compact , also under the gravitational influence of NGC 4874. Being only about 200 light-years across and mostly made up of old stars, these galaxies resemble brighter and larger versions of . They are thought to be the cores of small elliptical galaxies that, due to the violent interactions with other galaxies in the cluster, lost their gas and surrounding stars.

This Hubble image also shows many more distant galaxies that do not belong to the cluster, seen as small smudges in the background. While the galaxies in the Coma Cluster are located about 350 million light-years away, these other objects are much farther out. Their light took several hundred million to billions of years to reach us.

This picture was created from optical and near-infrared exposures taken with the Wide Field Channel of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. The field of view is 3.3 arcminutes across.

Explore further

Image: Hubble checks out a home for old stars

Provided by NASA
Citation: Image: Hubble catches galaxies swarmed by star clusters (2017, October 2) retrieved 17 October 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Oct 03, 2017
Being only about 200 light-years across and mostly made up of old stars, these galaxies resemble brighter and larger versions of globular clusters.

As I have been saying for years now, the globular clusters are simply born near the core of the parent galaxy, and ejected therefrom growing from within all the while. As this is a much more massive galaxy, it is older with a more massive and therefore with a more active supermassive core, ejecting more new matter therefrom which is the source of the globular clusters, which grow to harbor their own intermediate core star as well.

So here is an example of the early stage of forming a galactic cluster, whereby the daughter galaxies are still fairly small, not having sufficient time to grow into massive galaxies themselves.

Don't like it because you can't understand in view of cherished laws? I understand. Nature understands. Rejoice! You have a lot to learn. Get busy.

Oct 19, 2017
Recall this supporting news:

Heidelberg astronomers discovered the extremely-low density galaxies, known as ultra-diffuse galaxies, a find that is "both remarkable and puzzling"...
Amazingly, most of the ultra-diffuse galaxies appear intact, with only very few candidates showing signs of ongoing disruption in spite of the strong tidal field.

But the committed merger maniac automatically reaches for a fairy-tale explanation:

"Perhaps the stars in ultra-diffuse galaxies are gravitationally bound due to an especially high dark matter content."

Don't be fooled, like these fools.

Oct 30, 2017
And still another example of a later state of this inside-out growth condition, where the globular clusters have grown into spiral galaxies as they disperse from the central parent galaxy, and wherein the spirals have continued to grow further into giant spherical galaxies as they disperse even further from central core galaxy.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more