The Hubble Space Telescope captured a crowd of stars that looks rather like a stadium darkened before a show, lit only by the flashbulbs of the audience’s cameras. Yet the many stars of this object, known as Messier 107, are not a fleeting phenomenon, at least by human reckoning of time — these ancient stars have gleamed for many billions of years.
Messier 107 is one of more than 150 globular star clusters found around the disc of the Milky Way galaxy. These spherical collections each contain hundreds of thousands of extremely old stars and are among the oldest objects in the Milky Way. The origin of globular clusters and their impact on galactic evolution remains somewhat unclear, so astronomers continue to study them.
Messier 107 can be found in the constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer) and is located about 20,000 light-years from our solar system.
French astronomer Pierre Méchain first noted the object in 1782, and British astronomer William Herschel documented it independently a year later. A Canadian astronomer, Helen Sawyer Hogg, added Messier 107 to Charles Messier’s famous astronomical catalogue in 1947.
This picture was obtained with the Wide Field Camera of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.
Image credit: ESA/NASA
Over two decades in orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope has made a huge number of observations. Every week, we publish new images on the ESA/Hubble website.
But hidden in Hubble’s huge data archives are still some truly breathtaking images that have never been seen in public. We call them Hubble’s Hidden Treasures — and we’re looking for your help to bring them to light.
We’re inviting the public into Hubble’s vast science archive to dig out the best unseen Hubble images. Find a great dataset in the Hubble Legacy Archive (http://hla.stsci.edu/), adjust the contrast and colours using the simple online tools and submit to our Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Contest Flickr group (http://www.flickr.com/groups/hubblehiddentreasures), and you could win an iPod Touch in our Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Competition.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has produced the most detailed image so far of Messier 9, a globular star cluster located close to the centre of the galaxy. This ball of stars is too faint to see with the naked eye, yet Hubble can see over 250 000 individual stars shining in it.
Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have uncovered a cluster of galaxies in the initial stages of development, making it the most distant such grouping ever observed in the early Universe.
Using its infrared vision to peer nine billion years back in time, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered an extraordinary population of tiny, young galaxies that are brimming with star formation.
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The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has been used to make an image of galaxy cluster MACS J1206.2-0847. The apparently distorted shapes of distant galaxies in the background is caused by an invisible substance called dark matter, whose gravity bends and distorts their light rays. MACS 1206 has been observed as part of a new survey of galaxy clusters using Hubble.
Hubble’s famous images of galaxies typically show elegant spirals or soft-edged ellipses. But these neat forms are only representative of large galaxies. Smaller galaxies like the dwarf irregular galaxy Holmberg II come in many shapes and types that are harder to classify. This galaxy’s indistinct shape is punctuated by huge glowing bubbles of gas, captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
The Andromeda Galaxy is revealed in unprecedented detail in four archive observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. They show stars and structure in the galaxy’s disc, the halo of stars that surrounds it, and a stream of stars left by a companion galaxy as it was torn apart and pulled in by the galaxy’s gravitational forces.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has made its millionth observation
since its launch 21 years ago. The telescope was used to search for the
chemical signature of water in the atmosphere of planet HAT-P-7b, a gas
giant larger than Jupiter which orbits the star HAT-P-7.