Globular Clusters

Just what exactly are Globular clusters, and where are they to be found?

Globular clusters are defined as a dense grouping of thousands to millions of stars. They are made up of young stars at millions of years old to even older stars at several billions years old. The stars in these clusters are frequently very tightly bound together.

Regarded as deep sky objects,they are easily found in the night sky in the hours before midnight during the months of April through September, and appear in your telescope as concentrated patches of gray mist.

Probably the most spectacular of all is the NGC 5139 which can be seen with the naked eye because it is 3 times the moon's diameter.

There are an incredible number of stars that take up your viewfinder and it is truly a marvelous site to observe. If you reside in or around North Carolina near the latitude of +36 degrees, it is possible to spot it very easily in the night sky.

Clusters like these are extremely common. In the Milky Way, there are 150 known clusters. The Andromeda galaxy could have well over 500. The giant elliptical galaxies, such as M87, have possibly 10,000. The really awesome point is globular clusters comprise a lot of the stars which were created when time began.

The major part of these clusters are located close to the galactic core on the celestial sky side. Clusters include a high density of older stars but they are not great locations for planetary systems.

The orbits of the planets become unstable in the dense clusters. These clusters can be dated by viewing the temperature the coolest white dwarf stars are in the group. Common results say many of these stars are 12.7 billion years old or older.

During the last few years, observational techniques and technological know-how have improved to such an extent that significant breakthrough discoveries are being made on a regular basis.

These findings can only assist in improving the understanding of the complex and fascinating evolution of these objects and their host globular clusters.

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