(This press release from April
24, 1996, is reproduced courtesy of the Space Telescope Science Institute.)
Hubble Space Telescope has captured a view of a globular cluster called
G1, a large, bright ball of light in the center of the photograph
consisting of at least 300,000 old stars.
G1, also known as Mayall II, orbits the Andromeda galaxy (M31), the
nearest major spiral galaxy to our Milky Way. Located 130,000
light-years from Andromedas nucleus, G1 is the brightest globular
cluster in the Local Group of galaxies. The Local Group consists of
about 20 nearby galaxies, including the Milky Way.
The crisp image is comparable to ground-based telescope views of
similar clusters orbiting the Milky Way. The Andromeda cluster,
however, is nearly 100 times farther away.
A glimpse into the clusters finer details allow astronomers to see its
fainter helium-burning stars whose temperatures and brightnesses show
that this cluster in Andromeda and the oldest Milky Way clusters have
approximately the same age. These clusters probably were formed
shortly after the beginning of the universe, providing astronomers with
a record of the earliest era of galaxy formation.
During the next two years, astronomers will use Hubble to study about
20 more globular clusters in Andromeda.
The color picture was assembled from separate images taken in visible
and near-infrared wavelengths taken in July of 1994.
CREDIT: Michael Rich, Kenneth Mighell, and James D. Neill (Columbia
University), and Wendy Freedman (Carnegie Observatories), and NASA