Astronomy Picture of the Day

NGC 5139: Omega Centauri

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NGC 5139: Omega Centauri


is one of the most striking constellations in
the southern sky.

The Milky Way flows through this
celestial expanse
whose wonders also include the closest star system to the Sun,
Alpha Centauri,
and the largest globular star cluster in our galaxy,
Omega Centauri
(aka NGC 5139).

href="">This sharp
telescopic view of Omega Centauri shows off the central
regions of the cluster of about 10 million stars.

Omega Cen itself
is about 15,000 light-years away and 150 light-years in diameter - the
largest of 150 or so
star clusters that roam the halo of
our galaxy.

Though most star clusters are composed 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
with the Milky Way.

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