NGC 5139 THE GREAT OMEGA CENTAURI 3 PART ZOOM (2-3).
Photo By: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. CLICK for full 10mb photo (Don’t be afraid to scroll to expand it after) and links below.
This is part 2 of a 3-photo post on the mighty Omega Centauri. In this series I will use three photos to illustrate this, the most massive of all the clusters. Each of the three we will get closer and closer in to the core region. Please let me know if you dig it, if so I will create more that are similar from time to time.
Now we take a step in closer to the heart of Omega Centauri and the density of this beast quickly becomes apparent. This photo as shown is approximately 40 light years wide. Globular clusters typically consist of about a million tightly grouped stars of the same chemical makeup and are typically ancient stars. Omega Centauri simply does not fit this label. Being about 10 times larger than the next largest globular it also contains stars of different ages and composition. The entire structure rotates much faster than a typical globular cluster and its structure, though from face on looks completely spherical, is in fact highly flattened.
Ptolemy cataloged it as a single star, Edmond Halley a nebula, John Herschel a globular cluster and today because of new discovery its title is still very much in question. Hypotheses based off observation now have Omega Centauri looking as if it’s a core of a long absorbed galaxy, possibly a dwarf galaxy. I suppose in time, science will steal some more detail and form further conclusions.
NAME: Omega Centauri, NGC 5139, Caldwell 80.
WHAT IS IT?: Globular Star Cluster; by far the largest in the galaxy.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Approximately 150 light years in diameter and its mass is approximately 4 million solar masses. On the night sky it’s almost as large as the Full Moon.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Approximately 17,000 light years distant or about 5000 parsecs according to NASA’s Hubble Team.
HOW OLD IS IT?: An estimated 12 billion years old.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE?: A naked eye bright 3.9 or +3.9.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Southern Hemisphere Constellation of Centaurus.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 13h 26m 47.28s / DEC −47° 28′ 46.1″.
NASA page for this photo: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/hst_img_20080402.html
NASA Hubblesite News Center page for this photo: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2008/14/full/
ESA Space Telescope page for this photo 1: http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic0809/
ESA Space Telescope page for this photo 2: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic0809a/
Hubble Heritage Project page for this photo: http://heritage.stsci.edu/2008/14/