It is pictures like this that show us just how tiny we really are, and just how vast, amazing and beautiful Space is.
This swarm of ancient stars is the stellar swarm M80 (NGC 6093) and is one of the most jam-packed star clusters in the Milky Way galaxy. It is made up of hundreds of thousands of stars which are all held together by their mutual gravitational attraction (who said romance was dead?). It is located around 28,000 light-years away from Earth and all of the stars in the cluster are about 15 billion years old – which, incidentally make this cluster particularly fantastic for studying stellar evolution.
NASA had this to say about this image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope:
Every star visible in this image is either more highly evolved than, or in a few rare cases more massive than, our own Sun. Especially obvious are the bright red giants, which are stars similar to the Sun in mass that are nearing the ends of their lives.
And looking at the image there are a fair few red giants.
The vast reaches of Space and the beauty that it contains never fails to astonish me. It is truly crazy that just 28,000 light-years away (I know what you are thinking, 28,000 light-years…a mere stone throws away…), there is a cluster of stars so dense and massive and chock full of stars the sames size or bigger than our sun, the very star that keeps life ticking along on our own very lovely planet.
This to me is both crazy and amazing. I love that NASA and other Space agencies explore our vast skies and galaxies surrounding us. It is important to know where we are and what surrounds us and the wealth of knowledge and information they give to us is outstanding.