Starry Sparkler

Credit: ESA/NASA Hubble


Zooming into this intense swarm of stars is enough to dazzle any astronaut. Explore the very heart of globular cluster Messier 9 in this amazing image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. What stories can you tell? Leave a note below.

Globular clusters are spherical collections of hundreds of thousands of stars. They are also ancient; forming before the Milky Way Galaxy. These groups of stars are tightly bound by gravity. The closer toward the center we travel in a globular cluster, the more tightly stars are packed. Stars at the center of a globular cluster are less than a light-year apart. Some astronomers believe that black holes may lurk at the very center of globular clusters. As we travel toward the center of M9 look for different colors of stars. Redder stars are cooler while blue stars are extremely hot.

Messier 9, or NGC 6333, is one of the nearer globular clusters to Earth. French astronomer Charles Messier discovered M9 in 1764. Generally, globular clusters orbit the galaxy at great distances like a satellite orbits the Earth. M9 is actually closer to the center of the Milky Way Galaxy about 25,800 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Handler.

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The ancient peoples saw pictures in the sky. From those patterns in the heavens, ancient storytellers created legends about heroes, maidens, dragons, bears, centaurs, dogs and mythical creatures...
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