The largest of its kind

Star clusters are commonly featured in cosmic photoshoots, and are also well-loved by the keen eye of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. These large gatherings of celestial gems are striking sights — and the subject of this Picture of the Week, Messier 2, is certainly no exception.

Messier 2 is located in the constellation of Aquarius (The Water-Bearer), about 55 000 light-years away. It is a globular cluster, a spherical group of stars all tightly bound together by gravity. With a diameter of roughly 175 light-years, a population of 150 000 stars, and an age of 13 billion years, Messier 2 is one of the largest clusters of its kind and one of the oldest associated with the Milky Way.

Most of the cluster’s mass is concentrated at its centre, with shimmering streams of stars extending outwards into space. It is bright enough that it can even be seen with the naked eye when observing conditions are extremely good.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA, G. Piotto et al.

About the Image

Id:potw1913a
Type:Observation
Release date:1 April 2019, 06:00
Size:3678 x 3697 px

About the Object

Name:Messier 2
Type:Milky Way : Star : Grouping : Cluster : Globular
Distance:55000 light years
Constellation:Aquarius
Category:Star Clusters

Image Formats

Large JPEG
7.7 MB
Screensize JPEG
721.8 KB

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646.3 KB
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1.1 MB
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1.5 MB
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2.4 MB

Coordinates

Position (RA):21 33 27.20
Position (Dec):0° 49' 21.79"
Field of view:2.43 x 2.44 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 12.8° right of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Ultraviolet
UV
275 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
u
336 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
B
438 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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