A celestial workhorse and its committed team of astronomers have delivered another captivating image of a globular cluster and its limitless depth of stars.
While a new image from the Hubble Space Telescope is breathtaking, there’s a lot more to this part of the sky than meets the eye. According to a statement(opens in new tab) from the European Space Agency, a partner on the observatory, the cluster, known as Ruprecht 106, is also home to a grand mystery of Sherlockian proportions — and the game is on to unlock clues to the cluster’s intriguing nature.
Even if the core stars in a globular cluster were all born at the same time and in the same place, scientists agree that there are stars within these cosmic nurseries that have unique chemical compositions that can vary greatly.
This fluctuation is thought to represent subsequent stars generated from gas tainted by processed material from larger first-generation stars, according to astronomers.
Rare globular clusters, such as Ruprecht 106, lack these types of stars and are classified as single-population clusters, meaning no second- or third-generation stars have ever formed.
Astronomers think that a closer examination of this fascinating globular cluster would reveal why it only has one generation of stars.
Ruprecht 106, also known as C 1235-509, is a star in our Milky Way galaxy that is 69,100 light-years from Earth and was discovered in 1961 by Czech astronomer Jaroslav Ruprecht in the constellation Centaurus.
Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys took several exposures in the visible and near-infrared parts of the spectrum to create this stunning colour image of Ruprecht 106. (ACS).
This optical equipment, which replaced Hubble’s first Faint Object Camera in 2002, is a third-generation gadget.
Many of the other instruments on board the venerable space telescope have also undergone improvements in low Earth orbit throughout the years.
During a spacewalk in 2009, the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFPC3) replaced the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), which was succeeded by the original Wide Field and Planetary Camera installed at the legendary orbiting observatory’s successful launch in 1990.