10 billion year old celestial bodies light up the night sky

Here's one to wrap your head around. This image from the Hubble telescope shows lights from a globular cluster of celestial bodies 10 billion years old. That means those lights were shining five billion years before our solar system was born, and one of the most ancient in the night sky.

A globular cluster is a spherical grouping of gravitationally bound celestial bodies. This grouping is called NGC 6752, and contains a high number of "blue straggler" stars.

According to NASA: "These are stars that look younger than their neighbors, despite models suggesting most of the starts within globular clusters should have formed at approximately the same time. Their origin is therefore something of a mystery."

Studies of the cluster suggest that a high percentage of the stars within the cluster's core are binary systems. Binary systems are stars, or sometimes planets, that are so close in proximity their gravitational systems cause them to orbit around the same center of mass.

It is believed that collisions between the stars are common and it could be one of the reasons blue stragglers are so common in this globular cluster.

The blue stragglers help make NGC 6572 one of the brightest items in the night sky. And if that isn't enough to dazzle you, consider that it is 13,000 light years away.

NASA, via io9

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