Hubble stuns with new glittering star cluster image
Even under clear skies in areas with hardly any light pollution, this view into space would look like nothing more than a round hazy splotch through binoculars.
But in a newly released Hubble Space Telescope(Opens in a new tab) image, this globular cluster(Opens in a new tab) in the constellation Sagittarius is a glittering spread of jewels, scattered atop a black velvet blanket.
Globular clusters(Opens in a new tab) are tight spherical groups of stars: disco balls of the cosmos.
This one is dubbed Messier 55, or collectively the "Summer Rose Star."
The advantage of Hubble is its clear view from low-Earth orbit, making it possible to resolve individual stars within clusters.
Hubble has revolutionized the understanding of globular clusters, allowing astronomers to study what kinds of stars are within them.
Astronomers believe this happens when a star pulls material off a nearby neighbor or if they slam into each other.
This snapshot is just a portion of the whole cluster, which spans 100 light-years.
NASA compares an image of the globular cluster taken by the Digital Sky Survey, a ground-based telescope, left, to Hubble's picture.
The globular cluster was first spotted in 1752 by a French astronomer in present-day South Africa.
What makes this cluster appear spherical is the extreme gravitational pull among the stars, drawing them together.
Among this grouping are 55 variable stars whose brightness change over time.