Multiple generations of stars in a globular cluster

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of a dense swarm of stars shows the central region of the globular cluster NGC 2808.

Astronomers were surprised when Hubble spied three generations of cluster stars. The discovery is far different from the standard picture of a globular cluster. For decades, astronomers thought that cluster stars formed at the same time, in the same place, and from the same material, and have co-evolved for billions of years.

Globular clusters are among the earliest settlers of our Milky Way Galaxy, born during our galaxy's formation. They are compact swarms of typically hundreds of thousands of stars held together by gravity.

All the stars in NGC 2808 were born within 200 million years very early in the life of the 12.5-billion-year-old massive cluster. Of the about 150 known globular clusters in our Milky Way Galaxy, NGC 2808 is one of the most massive, containing more than 1 million stars.

The sharp resolution of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys measured the brightness and colours of the cluster stars to find the three stellar populations.

The Hubble images were taken in May 2005 and in August and November 2006.

Credit:

European Space Agency, NASA, G. Piotto (University of Padua, Italy) and A. Sarajedini (University of Florida, USA). Acknowledgement: Davide de Martin (ESA/Hubble)

About the Image

NASA caption
Id:heic0708a
Type:Observation
Release date:2 May 2007, 15:00
Related releases:heic0708
Size:3856 x 3864 px

About the Object

Name:NGC 2808
Type:• Milky Way : Star : Grouping : Cluster : Globular
• X - Star Clusters Images/Videos
Distance:30000 light years

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
B
475 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
Pseudogreen (B+I)
Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Infrared
I
814 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS

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