Contact: Francis Reddy
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Caption: Omega Centauri (also known as NGC 5139) is the largest, brightest and most massive of our galaxy's retinue of 150 or so globular star clusters. Packing some 10 million stars into a region just 150 light-years across, Omega Centauri is easily visible to the unaided eye despite lying nearly 16,000 light-years away. Unlike other star clusters, whose members all have similar age and chemical makeup, Omega Centauri displays a wide range of age and chemistry, from the ancient (12 billion years) to the relatively recent. The presence of different stellar populations suggests that Omega Centauri is not, in fact, a globular cluster, but the remnant core of a dwarf galaxy torn to shreds by the Milky Way’s gravity. The false-color ultraviolet composite from Swift UVOT's uvw1, uvm2 and uvw2 filters reveals a treasure trove of rare stars in various stages of demise.
Credit: NASA/Swift/S. Holland (Goddard), M. Siegel and E. Fonseca (PSU)
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