Image of the Day: Inside a globular cluster

In next month's issue of Astronomy Magazine, you'll be able to experience a simulation of what it would look like if the Earth was orbiting a star in the middle of a globular cluster named 47 Tucanae. Here's what 47 Tucanae looks like from Earth; it's just under 17,000 light years away, and about 120 light years across:

Don't bother trying to count all of those stars — there are millions of them. And they're packed in very, very close to each other, with the average distance between stars smaller than the distance from our sun to the Oort Cloud. If the Earth is in the middle of all of this, we'd be able to see tens of thousands of stars that are brighter than all but about 30 of the stars that we see now. With our naked eyes, we can see about 6,000 stars from the surface of the Earth, but inside this cluster, we'd be able to see 130,000. All of these stars would combine to cast a starlight that would be 20 times brighter than the light that we get from a full moon. Here's another view:

These simulations were developed by astronomers from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and you'll have access to a dynamic version when the magazine comes out next month.

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Astronomy, via io9

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