Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2000 October 15
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Globular Cluster Omega Centauri
Credit: UIT, NASA

Explanation: Does an old, red globular cluster have any hot, blue stars? The rightmost picture, taken by the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope in ultraviolet light, shows that indeed it does. Pictured, Omega Centauri is the largest known globular cluster of over 200 in our Galaxy, containing well over a million stars. Many of these stars are evident in the visible light photograph on the left. When photographed in ultraviolet light, however, different and less numerous stars emerge, as evident on the photograph on the right. Most of these stars are thought to have evolved past the current stage of our Sun. These stars no longer fuse hydrogen to helium in their core but rather fuse helium into carbon. These stars will soon shed their outer envelopes and end up as smoldering carbon embers known as white dwarf stars.

Tomorrow's picture: Dusty Stars

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.