The Hubble space telescope of NASA has spotted an estimated 160,000 stars, swarming like bees inside the core of a giant group of galaxies called “Abell 1689,” scientists said.
According to the scientists, the stars that are more than two billion light years away from Earth may be the largest known population of globular star clusters.
An international team of astronomers, led by John Blakeslee of the National Research Council, Herzberg Astrophysics Programme at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, discovered the bunch of stars by using Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.
The astronomers said that such compact groupings can be instrumental for tracing dark matter, the invisible gravitational scaffolding on which galaxies are built.
The study revealed that the globular star cluster in ‘Abell 1689’ is almost twice as large as any other star population found in previous surveys. It is noteworthy, our Milky Way galaxy hosts about 150 such star clusters.
The Hubble observations also confirm that these compact stellar groupings can be used as reliable tracers of the amount of dark matter locked away in immense galaxy clusters.
Globular clusters, dense bunches of hundreds of thousands of stars, are the homesteaders of galaxies, containing some of the oldest surviving stars in the universe.
Scientists said that the globular star clusters contain some of the oldest surviving stars in the universe.
The study was published online on September 10 and will appear in the print edition of The Astrophysical Journal on September 20.