NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the centre of Messier 4
This sparkling picture taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the centre of globular cluster Messier 4. The power of Hubble has resolved the cluster into a multitude of glowing orbs, each a colossal nuclear furnace.
Messier 4 is relatively close to us, lying 7200 light-years distant, making it a prime object for study. It contains tens of thousands of stars and is noteworthy in being home to many white dwarfs — the cores of ancient, dying stars whose outer layers have drifted away into space.
In July 2003, Hubble helped make the astounding discovery of a planet called PSR B1620-26 b, 2.5 times the mass of Jupiter, which is located in this cluster. Its age is estimated to be around 13 billion years — almost three times as old as the Solar System. It is also unusual in that it orbits a binary system of a white dwarf and a pulsar (a type of neutron star).
Amateur stargazers may like to track Messier 4 down in the night sky. Use binoculars or a small telescope to scan the skies near the orange-red star Antares in Scorpius. Messier 4 is bright for a globular cluster but it won’t look anything like Hubble’s detailed image: it will appear as a fuzzy ball of light in your eyepiece.Credit:
ESA/Hubble & NASA
About the Image
|Release date:||5 September 2012, 12:00|
|Size:||4165 x 4132 px|
About the Object
|Name:||M 4, Messier 4, NGC 6121|
|Type:||• Milky Way : Star : Grouping : Cluster : Globular|
|Position (RA):||16 23 35.46|
|Position (Dec):||-26° 31' 29.47"|
|Field of view:||3.49 x 3.46 arcminutes|
|Orientation:||North is 9.5° right of vertical|
Colours & filters
|435 nm||Hubble Space Telescope|
|606 nm||Hubble Space Telescope|
|814 nm||Hubble Space Telescope|