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.

2001 June 11
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Globular Cluster M2
Credit & Copyright: D. Williams, N. A. Sharp, AURA, NOAO, NSF

Explanation: Beneath the south pole of our Milky Way Galaxy lies a ball of over 100,000 stars. M2, the second object on Charles Messier's eighteenth century list of bright diffuse sky objects, is known as a globular cluster, and orbits the center of our Galaxy like nearly 200 other globular clusters left over from the early days of our universe. M2, pictured above, spans over 150 light-years, lies about 50,000 light-years away, and can be seen with binoculars towards the constellation of Aquarius. Determining the distances and ages to globular clusters like M2 constrains the scale and age of our entire universe.

Tomorrow's picture: Wheel of 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.