The hubble space telescope has obtained this image of a bright gathering of stars, called Pismis 26, a globular cluster of stars located about 23,000 light-years away.
Many thousands of stars shine brightly against the black background of the image, with some brighter red and blue stars located along the outskirts of the cluster. Armenian astronomer Paris Pismis first discovered the cluster in 1959 at the Tonantzintla Observatory in Mexico, giving it the dual name Tonantzintla 2reports NASA.
Pismis 26 It is located in the constellation of Scorpius near the galactic bulge, which is an area near the center of our galaxy that contains a dense spheroidal clump of stars surrounding a black hole.
Due to its location within the dust-laden bulge, a process called “reddening” occurs, in which the dust scatters shorter-wavelength blue light while longer-wavelength red light passes through it. The redness distorts the apparent color of cosmic objects. Globular clusters are groups of stars that are held together by mutual gravitational attraction. They contain thousands of stars close together and are nearly spherical in shape.
Astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to study visible and infrared light from Pismis 26 to determine the cluster’s redness, age, and metallicity.
The stars in Pismis 26 have a high metallicity, which means that contain a high fraction of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium, the most abundant elements in the universe. Specifically, the stars are rich in the element nitrogen, which is typical of stars in bulging clusters and has led scientists to believe that populations of stars of different ages are present in the cluster.
It is likely that Pismis 26 has also lost a considerable part of its mass over time due to a gravitational force called the strong inner galaxy tidal field, which the inner galaxy exerts on the star clusters in the galactic bulge, causing their outer layers to drift apart. The researchers estimate the age of the cluster to be 12 billion years.