Glossary term: Globular Cluster

Description: A globular cluster is a massive, spherically-shaped and densely-packed group of stars that is gravitationally bound and stable over billions of years. In the Milky Way, globular clusters are made up of only very old stars (in general, ages of 11–13 billion years). Globular clusters are some of the oldest objects in the Milky Way. For most globular clusters the constituent stars all formed at approximately the same time although a few globular clusters show evidence of multiple generations of stars. The Milky Way has approximately 160 globular clusters (mostly residing in its halo), while giant elliptical galaxies can have many thousands.

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Term and definition status: This term and its definition have been approved by a research astronomer and a teacher

The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".

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A cluster of stars of may different colours. The stars are heavily concentrated in the centre of the image

Stars in globular clusters near the heart of the Milky Way

Caption: This Hubble Space Telescope image presents a view of the interiors of the densely packed globular cluster Terzan 9 which consists of millions of stars located close to the heart of our Milky Way galaxy. This globular cluster sits within the central galatic bulge amidst interstellar dust, which obscures light from these star clusters. This image is a combination of light seen in the visible and infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Multi-wavelength imaging of the color and brightness of stars helps determine their age and in turn age of the parent star cluster.
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Cohen credit link

License: PD Public Domain icons