EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Centre of globular star cluster M12. This area is around 23 light years across, showing thousands of stars densely clustered in a relatively small area. M12, also known as NGC 6218, contains around 200,000 stars, and is 23,000 light years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus. Globular star clusters formed early in the history of the universe. M12 is one of the globular star clusters that orbit the Milky Way galaxy, periodically losing stars as it passes close to its inner regions. This image was obtained with the FORS1 instrument at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) as part of a study published in 2006. The study showed that M12 has lost around a million stars to the Milky Way galaxy during its history.
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