Space is a repository of planets, galaxies, and umpteen stars. And agencies such as NASA and European Space Agency
(ESA) have, from time to time, brought to us some breathtaking visuals, in a way acting as a bridge between humans
and the universe.
On Saturday, NASA shared a fascinating view of a snow-globe-shaped island comprising several
hundred thousand stars. Held together by gravity, these stars make up a globular cluster, which the pictures where
taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. In an Instagram post, NASA wrote that the globular cluster was in the
Scorpio, located 35,000 light-years away from the Earth.
“Globular clusters are spherical groups of stars held together by gravity. They often contain some of the oldest stars in
their galaxies,” added the space agency. Quite fascinating to hear, though, that this cluster has been discovered and
rediscovered throughout time and is known by many names.
NASA said that the discovery was by James Dunlop in 1826, only to rediscover it eight years later in 1834, and
then over a century later again in 1959.
“Nowadays, this cluster is reliably recognised in widely available catalogues,” it said.
4,000 light-years from the Earth
Furthermore, in a note on its website, NASA said that the very bright star at the top of the image was HD 159073, only
around 4,000 light-years from the Earth. That also made it a much nearer neighbour than NGC 6380, said the space
However, NASA further goes on to mention the discovery and subsequent rediscoveries of the NGC 6380 cluster. NASA
states that the discovery of the cluster was by James Dunlop in 1826. Then, in 1834, “it was independently rediscovered by
John Herschel”. Again, in 1959, “the cluster was re-rediscovered” by Paris Pismis.
However, The photography of the cluster was by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 that has a wide field of view, which means that it can
capture a relatively large area of the sky. And, with that, NASA also announced that all the instruments on its Hubble
Space Telescope were now operational again and thereby collecting science data once again to expand the human
understanding of the universe.
The orbiting observatory had gone dark in mid-June, with all astronomical viewing halted, but it has been fixed now.
By Cynthia N.