The Hubble Space Telescope treats us to another memorable snapshot of our galactic neighborhood. This time, Hubble has captured a massive globular cluster, known as NGC 6139 – home to some of the Milky Way's oldest stars.
Released June 29 by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Hubble image shows NGC 6139 – a "rich and dense stardust" – seen around the direction of our galaxy center, in the Scorpius constellation (the Scorpion).
According to ESA, "this constellation is a goldmine of fascinating astronomical objects" and has yielded a large amount of breathtaking telescopic images. For example, almost a decade ago, Hubble peered into the Scorpius constellation and snapped a stunning photo of the Butterfly Nebula, Notes Hubblesite.com .
This latest image shows just one of Hubble's many pictured globular clusters during his 30 years charting the sky. These dazzling features are defined as spherical accumulations of stars and orbiting the nucleus of a galaxy that resembles a satellite.
It is believed that globular clusters ̵
The Milky Way boasts at least 150 globular clusters, reports Sci News each of them tightly bound together by gravity and a high density of stars, especially towards their center.
These globular clusters, which were filled with hundreds of thousands of stars, were formed "very early in the galaxy's history," though their exact role in the evolution of the Milky Way remains unclear.
Of all the globular clusters that encircle our galaxy core, NGC 6139 is remarkably interesting. This globular cluster, discovered in 1826 by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop and measuring about 35,000 light-years, is referred to by the ESA as "aging beauty."
Space Agency officials explain why.
"Studies have shown that this sphere cluster, called NGC 6139, hosts an aging population of stars, and most globular star clusters orbiting the Milky Way are estimated to be over 10 billion years old, and therefore contain some of the oldest stars in our galaxy . "
The main difference between globular clusters and open star clusters, such as the famous Pleiades, is that they are much older and denser than the latter. They are in the galaxy's galaxy – unlike the galactic disk, which usually has open star clusters being found.
The newly released image was taken by Hubble's Wide-Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and actually consists of several shots that were initially monochrome. As pointed out by Sci News the resulting photo owes its beautiful colors to the different hues associated with each of the filters used to scan different wavelengths.