Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2010 March 31
See Explanation. Go online for the highest resolution available.

Millions of Stars in Omega Centauri
Image Credit & Copyright: Fred Lehman (South Florida Dark Sky Observers)

Explanation: Featured in the sharp telescopic image, globular star cluster Omega Centauri (NGC 5139) is some 15,000 light-years away and 150 light-years in diameter. Packed with about 10 million stars much older than the Sun, Omega Cen is the largest of 200 or so known globular clusters that roam the halo of our Milky Way galaxy. Though most star clusters consist of stars with the same age and composition, the enigmatic Omega Cen exhibits the presence of different stellar populations with a spread of ages and chemical abundances. In fact, Omega Cen may be the remnant core of a small galaxy merging with the Milky Way.

View this page (with external links) online at
http://apod.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap100331.html.


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