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.

2011 June 15
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Millions of Stars in Omega Centauri
Image Credit & Copyright: Gordon Mandell

Explanation: Featured in this sharp telescopic image, globular star cluster Omega Centauri (NGC 5139) is some 15,000 light-years away. Some 150 light-years in diameter, the cluster is packed with about 10 million stars much older than the Sun. Omega Cen is the largest of 200 or so known globular clusters that roam the halo of our Milky Way galaxy. Though most star clusters consist of stars with the same age and composition, the enigmatic Omega Cen exhibits the presence of different stellar populations with a spread of ages and chemical abundances. In fact, Omega Cen may be the remnant core of a small galaxy merging with the Milky Way.

Tomorrow's picture: APOD 16

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