Keeping Up With The Crowd

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Behold: M53, aka NGC 5024 – one of the Milky Way’s 250 surviving globular clusters – a cosmic nightclub filled with stars, among them, late arrivals to the party, clearly under the influence of recent ‘refreshment’. To wit:

Most of the stars in M53 are older and redder than our Sun, but some enigmatic stars appear to be bluer and younger. These young stars might contradict the hypothesis that all the stars in M53 formed at nearly the same time. These unusual stars are known as blue stragglersand are unusually common in M53. After much debate,blue stragglers are now thought to be stars rejuvenated by fresh matter falling in from a binary star companion. By analyzing pictures of globular clusters like the featured image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers use the abundance of stars like blue stragglers to help determine the age of the globular cluster and hence a limit on the age of the universe. M53, visible with a binoculars towards the constellation of Bernice’s Hair (Coma Berenices), contains over 250,000 stars and is one of the furthest globulars from the centre of our Galaxy.

Melon-twisting full sized image here.

(Image: ESA/Hubble, NASA)

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