Stellar Snowflakes

Almost like snowflakes, the stars of the globular cluster NGC 6441 sparkle peacefully in the night sky, about 13 000 light-years from the Milky Way’s galactic centre. Like snowflakes, the exact number of stars in such a cluster is difficult to discern. It is estimated that together the stars weigh 1.6 million times the mass of the Sun, making NGC 6441 one of the most massive and luminous globular clusters in the Milky Way. 

NGC 6441 is host to four pulsars that each complete a single rotation in a few milliseconds. Also hidden within this cluster is JaFu 2, a planetary nebula. Despite its name, this has little to do with planets. A phase in the evolution of intermediate-mass stars, planetary nebulae last  for only a few tens of thousands of years, the blink of an eye on astronomical timescales. 

There are about 150 known globular clusters in the Milky Way. Globular clusters contain some of the first stars to be produced in a galaxy, but the details of their origins and evolution still elude astronomers.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA, G. Piotto

About the Image

Id:potw2022a
Type:Observation
Release date:1 June 2020, 06:00
Size:3643 x 3660 px

About the Object

Name:NGC 6441
Type:Local Universe : Star : Grouping : Cluster : Globular
Distance:13000 light years
Constellation:Scorpius
Category:Star Clusters

Image Formats

Large JPEG
7.9 MB
Screensize JPEG
703.6 KB

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1.5 MB
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2.4 MB

Coordinates

Position (RA):17 50 13.16
Position (Dec):-37° 3' 5.11"
Field of view:2.40 x 2.42 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 32.6° left 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
Optical
V
606 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS

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