Just in time for the festive period, the Hubble Space Telescope has released a dazzling image of a globular star cluster filled with stellar glitter — resembling a festive snow globe.
The observation, captured by the veteran telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) in optical and infrared wavelengths, shows the densely-packed central region of Messier 92, one of the brightest globular clusters in the Milky Way. Even at a distance of over 25,000 light-years from Earth, on a clear night, skywatchers can spot this cluster in the constellation of Hercules without the aid of a telescope.
Messier 92 is known to be "metal poor," otherwise known as an Oosterhoff type II (OoII) globular cluster. In astronomy terminology, "metal poor" means that this cluster is deficient in elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. The observed metallicity of globular clusters can provide clues as to their evolution and provide measurements of their age. As it turns out, Messier 92 is known to be one of the oldest globular clusters in our galaxy, corresponding to an age almost as old as the universe.
Globular clusters are balls of stars and Messier 92, which contains some 330,000 stars, orbits our galactic core.
This article was provided by Discovery News.