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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

From the Hubble, a new image of a glittering cosmic wonderland with stars as old as the universe itself

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It kind of looks like a snow globe -- or maybe like the glittering ornament atop a massive Christmas tree.

Or like your neighbor's house during December, if you're lucky enough to live next to an aggressive seasonal decorator.

But this image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows Messier 92. Messier 92 is a globular cluster, or a spherical group of old stars bound tightly together by gravity. Their density can make globular clusters appear quite bright, and this is one of the brightest in our whole galaxy.

You may even have seen this cosmic bauble before. It's over 25,000 light years away from Earth, but with 330,000 stars packed tightly into it, it's often visible with the naked eye. You can catch its occasional appearances in the constellation Hercules.

Astronomers know from Messier 92's molecular composition that it isn't just bright -- it's also very old. About as old as the universe itself, in fact.

Like this image? You could have been the one to create it. A version of this photo was submitted by Gilles Chapdelaine as part of the Hubble's Hidden Treasures image competition. The Hubble has beamed back so much data that not all of it has been translated into visible images, but the public is welcome to sift through archives to try to find stellar shots worth sharing.Find out more at the Hubble Web site.

Source : Washington post