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Oh My God, It's Full of Stars!


Image: NASA

The Hubble Space Telescope has got new glasses after astronauts refurbished it in May 2009, and now NASA has kindly released snapshots from the 19-year-old space telescope.

I'm particularly awestruck with this one of the Globular Star Cluster Omega Centauri:

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope snapped this panoramic view of a colorful assortment of 100,000 stars residing in the crowded core of a giant star cluster.

The image reveals a small region inside the massive globular cluster Omega Centauri, which boasts nearly 10 million stars. Globular clusters, ancient swarms of stars united by gravity, are the homesteaders of our Milky Way galaxy. The stars in Omega Centauri are between 10 billion and 12 billion years old. The cluster lies about 16,000 light-years from Earth. [...]

All of the stars in the image are cozy neighbors. The average distance between any two stars in the cluster's crowded core is only about a third of a light-year, roughly 13 times closer than our Sun's nearest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri. Although the stars are close together, WFC3's sharpness can resolve each of them as individual stars. If anyone lived in this globular cluster, they would behold a star-saturated sky that is roughly 100 times brighter than Earth's sky.

I wonder how many of those harbor alien life (seems like a waste if none of them do, don't you think?) ... Link


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The above image is so evenly covered in stars because it is a very very close up of a globular cluster. Through a backyard telescope, Omega Cen looks like a big fuzzball (to use the technical term). But if you zoom in enough (something Hubble can do better than anything else), you start to see a very evenly-distributed starfield.
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I wonder how it can be so evenly lighted. With that density of light-producing sources, it seems to me that parts of the image would have to be lighter than others.
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