Hubble Space Telescope images of M80


Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 photo of M80

Globular star cluster M80, a swarm hundreds of thousands of stars, was imaged here by the Hubble Space Telescope's WFPC2 camera. Only the brighter stars, brighter than our sun, are shown here, because of the cluster's large distance (roughly 28,000 light years). Especially obvious are the bright red giants, which are stars similar to the Sun in mass that are nearing the ends of their lives.

Analysis of WFPC2 images of M80 both in the visible and the UV part of the electromagnetic spectrum has led to the discovery of an unusually large number of "blue stragglers", stars which have lost their cooler outer layers in close mutual encounters. This is in good agreement with the fact that the core of M80 is one of the densest of all globulars in our Milky Way Galaxy, but not with the finding of only two nova-like close binary stars in this cluster.

Credit: Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/ STScI/ NASA)

  • Original STScI Press Release PRC-99-26
  • Hi-res version of this image [4 MB jpg]
  • This image was featured as Astronomy Picture of the Day July 7, 1999

    Hartmut Frommert
    Christine Kronberg

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    Last Modification: July 2, 1999