NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has snapped some of the most stunning shots of globular clusters in the night sky. The clusters contain hundreds of thousands of stars. Our galaxy Milky Way has over 150 such globular star structures located at the edge of galaxy and NASA has released the image of NGC 662.
As stars make their way through life they fuse elements together in their cores, creating heavier and heavier elements — known in astronomy as metals — in the process. When these stars die, they flood their surroundings with the material they have formed during their lifetimes, enriching the interstellar medium with metals. Stars that form later therefore contain higher proportions of metals than their older relatives.
By studying the different elements present within individual stars in NGC 362, astronomers discovered that the cluster boasts a surprisingly high metal content, indicating that it is younger than expected. Although most globular clusters are much older than the majority of stars in their host galaxy, NGC 362 bucks the trend, with an age lying between 10 and 11 billion years old. For reference, the age of the Milky Way is estimated to be above 13 billion years.
This image, in which you can view NGC 362’s individual stars, was taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).
Hubble Space Telescope is a joint venture of NASA and ESA. The telescope was launched in 1990 and since then it is the largest telescope in space. HST has helped scientists in exploring the deepest corners of the universe and has beamed back millions of stunning shots in its entire career. However, HST will be replaced by the James Webb Telescope in 2018 as it has thrice larger lens when compared to HST.