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Messier 54 globular star cluster, Hubble image

Messier 54 globular star cluster, Hubble image

C046/8445

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51.0 MB (6.8 MB compressed)

4266 x 4182 pixels

36.1 x 35.3 cm ⏐ 14.2 x 13.9 in (300dpi)

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Credit

ESA / HUBBLE & NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ESA / HUBBLE & NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Messier 54 is a ball of stars (globular cluster) that lies outside of the Milky Way galaxy in the southern constellation Sagittarius, 87,400 light-years from Earth. Messier 54 contains over 1 million stars and is thought to be 13 billion years old. Messier 54 belongs to a satellite of the Milky Way called the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy and is considered to be the first extragalactic cluster ever discovered. Charles Messier, the 18th century French astronomer, catalogued over 100 galaxies and clusters. Through the telescopes available at the time, comets, nebulae, globular clusters and galaxies appeared just as faint, diffuse blobs. This image was taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera for Surveys combining exposures taken with yellow-orange and near-infrared filters.

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