15,000 light-years away from Earth, the universe is acting very strange. A new image of the globular cluster 47 Tucanae, shows a clusters of stars with some interesting properties: emitting X-rays and being super bright.
They glimpsed the image with the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy, or VISTA telescope, the European Southern Observatory reported today.
The VISTA telescope, located in Chile, has a wide field of view and extremely sensitive detectors that make it the world’s largest telescope dedicated to mapping the sky. The telescope was able to capture this star cluster that orbits our Milky Way galaxy and is about 120 light-years across in fine detail.
Star clusters are made up of giant circular clouds of old stars, some around 12 billion years old (the universe itself is 14.8 billion years old), that clump together due to gravity, and are found circling cores of galaxies. These clusters are of interest due to the strange stars and systems inside of them.
From the European Southern Observatory release:
In amongst the swirling mass of stars at its heart lie many intriguing systems, including X-ray sources, variable stars, vampire stars, unexpectedly bright “normal” stars known as blue stragglers, and tiny objects known as millisecond pulsars, small dead stars that rotate astonishingly quickly.
Also in the picture are amber-glowing red giants, stars that have used up all their fuel and have swollen up to a massive size.
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