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OUR BEAUTIFUL UNIVERSE: VISTA views a vast ball of stars

Published on Friday, 08 June 2012 00:00

 

vista-starsGlobular cluster M55 in the infrared. (ESO/J Emerson/VISTA Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit)

 

This infrared image of globular cluster Messier 55 from ESO’s VISTA infrared survey telescope shows approximately one hundred thousand stars packed within a sphere with a diameter of only about 25 times the distance between the Sun and Alpha Centauri. These are old stars, formed about 10 billion years ago and consisting mainly of hydrogen, unlike the more complex constituents of later stars. Around 160 of these clusters surround our galaxy. This VISTA image also records many more distant galaxies far beyond M55, including an edge-on spiral galaxy above and right of the centre.

 

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www.eso.org/public/news/eso1220