Image credit: ESO / ESO Imaging Survey.
The globular cluster Messier 107, also known as NGC 6171, is located about 21 000 light-years away in the constellation of Ophiuchus. Messier 107 is about 13 arcminutes across, which corresponds to about 80 light-years at its distance. As is typical of globular clusters, a population of thousands of old stars in Messier 107 is densely concentrated into a volume that is only about twenty times the distance between our Sun and its nearest stellar neighbour, Alpha Centauri, across. This image was created from exposures taken through blue, green and near-infrared filters, using the Wide Field Imager (WFI) on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at La Silla Observatory, Chile.
“But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your eyes and hand, and fly into your face and eyes.” -John Adams
Not every swarm is a danger, however, particularly if you’re talking about the densest individual swarms of stars out there in the Universe: globular clusters!
Image credit: © 2006 — 2012 by Siegfried Kohlert, via http://www.astroimages.de/en/gallery/M107.html.
For today’s Messier Monday, the Moon will be out and polluting your skies, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking up at the wonders of the night sky; it means you should be targeting star and globular clusters. And the one we’ve got on tap for today almost didn’t make it into the Messier catalogue at all.
Image credit: Blue Mountain Vista Observatory, via http://www.star-watcher.org/M107.html.
Say hello to Messier 107. Go read (and enjoy) the whole story.