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Link Between Stars' Ages and Their Orbits

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Hubble Shows Link Between Stars' Ages and Their Orbits in Dense Cluster

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have for the first time linked two distinct populations of stars in an ancient globular star cluster to their unique orbital dynamics, offering proof that the stars do not share the same birth date.

The analysis of the globular cluster 47 Tucanae shows that the two populations differ in age by less than 100 million years. The cluster resides roughly 16,700 light-years away in the southern constellation Tucana.

Researchers, led by Harvey Richer of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, combined recent Hubble observations with eight years' worth of data from the telescope's archive to determine the motions of the stars in this cluster.


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Zoom into 47 Tucanae (Narrated)

This video zooms in from a view of the southern constellation Tucana to the globular cluster 47 Tucanae, which sits 16,700 light-years away from Earth. 47 Tucanae is 10.5 billion years old and is one of the brightest of our Milky Way galaxy's more than 150 globular clusters. Astronomers used Hubble Space Telescope images to accurately measure the changes in positions of more than 30,000 stars in 47 Tucanae. Linking these stars' ages and their orbital dynamics allowed researchers to identify two distinct generations of stars in the cluster. The Milky Way's globular clusters are the surviving relics from our galaxy's formation, and this analysis offers scientists better insight into the early history of our galaxy.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon and M. Estacion (STScI)

Source: HubbleSite

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