A Dazzling New Hubble Photo Captured an Ancient Star Cluster
The cluster is home to roughly 100,000 stars.
The more you look at it, the more it feels like you're looking at a messy bundle of decorative starry lights—but it's actually real stars, and they're pretty far away, too.
Due to the combined gravity of its stars, M55 is of a spherical shape. It is located in the constellation Sagittarius, and some of its stars (around 55 of them) are considered variable stars, meaning their brightness can change, according to NASA astronomers.
If it wasn't for NASA's Hubble telescope, we wouldn't even be able to marvel at the M55 cluster. Located 17,000 light-years from Earth, M55 is made of around 100,000 stars, but despite its relative brightness, Earth's atmosphere makes the cluster tougher to spot for those located in the northern hemisphere because it obscures it, Space.com points out.
"While Messier 55 is large and reasonably bright, it is lacking a dense core and many of its stars are quite faint, making it hard to observe in non-optimal conditions," NASA officials wrote in the photo's description. "Even in skies with low light pollution, viewed through binoculars, the cluster will only appear as a round hazy patch. Small telescopes can begin to resolve individual stars in M55, while larger aperture telescopes will pick out low magnitude stars easily."
Ready to go stargazing?
Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners or easy stargazing road trips from big US cities.