Hubble Spies Thousands and Thousands of Stars

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NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has taken this incredible picture of Messier 9, a globular star cluster located near the center of our galaxy. The cluster, located some 25,000 light years away, is too faint to be seen with the naked eye, but Hubble has captured more than 250,000 individual stars there. Globular clusters are believed to have emerged when the galaxy was quite young, and the stars that make up Messier 9 are calculated to be around twice as old as our sun. Because of their older age, the stars in globular clusters have a different chemical make-up, lacking in elements such as carbon and oxygen, which are essential to life on Earth, and iron, which makes up our planet's core. These elements were much rarer at the time when Messier 9 was born. In the above image, the stars' varying colors indicate different temperature; hotter stars appear bluer, and cooler stars appear in reds and pinks.

Below, recent Pictures of the Day:

Image: NASA.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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