NGC 5139 THE GREAT OMEGA CENTAURI 3 PART ZOOM (3-3).
Photo By: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. CLICK for full 37mb photo (Don’t be afraid to scroll to expand it after) links and 2 VIDEOS below.
Here’s a zoom in using these three photos (From NASA): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI3FDzn7p3k
Part 3-3 everyone, hope you enjoyed it!
Now were deep, from the 10 million plus stars in this object, now we only see about 100,000. This smaller number of stars does not; by any means make it less impressive. Let’s gain some perspective here. Of all the stars here, they reside only approximately one-third of a light year away from each other. That’s 13 times closer than Proxima Centauri (Our nearest neighbor) is to our Sun. If you lived on a planet orbiting one of these stars astronomy in the universe would be almost impossible and the sky would shine 100 times brighter than our brightest daytime sky…….endlessly. Just the fact that Hubble can get in this deep and resolve the individual stars at its core is fascinating to me.
Now for those amazing colors…..and once you understand what the different colors represent, a whole new stellar life cycle picture begins to form in your mind. Most of the stars here are white/yellow like our Sun. The orange stars dotted throughout are stars that are older; somewhat swollen, cooler stars (Remember all of my older posts stating that galactic cores have an orange/yellow hue from the amount of old stars?). As they age even further, they cool even more, become red giants; swell and shed their layers out into space. The red giants are easily identifiable here in this image, as are the next phase in stellar evolution. After the red giant sheds its layers, it leaves behind the extremely hot now-exposed inner layer of the star which burns a brilliant blue and emits massive amounts of ultraviolet radiation. These stars have used up all of the hydrogen available to properly maintain hydrogen fusion and now cling to life fusing helium atoms. You may see here and there faint blue dots…..these are the white dwarfs. The used up, dead stars that have run out of helium to maintain the fusion process properly. There is yet a third class of blue star here (Believe me I know it’s difficult to tell the difference). These are the “blue stragglers”, stars that were near death and have been lucky enough to collide with a younger star. The two stars will then merge (Right, who knew?) and that massive increase in energy output makes them burn blue.
The talk of an intermediate sized black hole with the mass of 40,000 solar masses at the heart of Omega Centauri is, after almost a decade of research still a hot, debated topic to professional astronomers.
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. This photo spans roughly 6 light years and displays about 100,000 stars near the core of the cluster.
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″.
ESA Hubble page for this photo: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic0910g/
NASA Hubblesite page for this photo: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/pr2009025d/
NASA Hubblesite News Center page for this photo: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2009/25/image/q/
NASA page for this object: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/omega-centauri.html
Black Hole in Omega Centauri? http://iopscience.iop.org/0004-637X/710/2/1032
HUBBLECAST 15 – Does Omega Centauri Have A Black Hole?: