October 23, 2021

Hubble looks deep into our Milky Way galaxy, captures this sparkling scene

Us Earthlings inhabit a solar system on one of the great spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy.

The legendary Hubble Space Telescope, orbiting Earth, peered inward and captured a vivid image of stars near the center of the Milky Way, a galaxy that’s some 100,000 light-years across (or about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilometers). NASA posted the image online on Friday.

What can we see? A “sparkling starfield,” writes NASA.

That dense group of stars is called a “globular cluster,” and that’s specifically “globular cluster ESO 520-21,” found near the center of the galaxy. A globular cluster is a “densely packed, roughly spherical collection of stars,” writes the European Space Agency.

Poetically, NASA calls them “snow-globe-shaped islands of several hundred thousand ancient stars.”

A "sparkling starfield."

A “sparkling starfield.”
Credit: ESA / HUBBLE AND NASA / R. COHEN

Star clusters are common in the universe, and because they’re bright, they’re often observed and researched by astronomers.

There are some 150 globular clusters in the Milky Way. As of 2018, NASA had discovered well over 22,000 globular clusters in our ever-expanding universe.

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