Last week we covered multiple star systems, but what if we added thousands or even millions of stars to the mix? A star cluster. There are different kinds of clusters, though. Open clusters contain hundreds or thousands of stars held together by gravity. They’re young, and evaporate over time, their stars let loose to roam space freely. Globular clusters, on the other hand, are larger, have hundreds of thousands of stars, and are more spherical. They’re very old, a significant fraction of the age of the Universe itself, and that means their stars have less heavy elements in them, are redder, and probably don’t have planets (though we’re not really sure).
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Table of Contents
Open clusters contain hundreds or thousands of young stars 00:29
Over time, open clusters evaporate 3:23
Globular clusters contain hundreds of thousands of old stars in spherical formation 5:50
Globular clusters have less heavy elements, thus probably do not have planets 6:43
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Magellanic gemstone in the southern sky [NGC 290] www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic0603c/ [credit: European Space Agency & NASA]
Extreme star cluster bursts into life in new Hubble image www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic0715a/ [credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration]
View of a Sun-like star within an open cluster (artist’s impression) www.spacetelescope.org/videos/heic1321d/ [credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Kornmesser]
Motion of stars in Omega Centauri www.spacetelescope.org/videos/heic1017a/ [credit: NASA, ESA, J. Anderson and R. van der Marel (STScI)]
47 Tucanae: Probing Extreme Matter Through Observations of Neutron Stars chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2013/47tuc/ [credit: NASA/CXC/Michigan State/A.Steiner et al]
Hubble Refines Distance to Pleiades Star Cluster hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2004/20/image/a/ [credit: NASA, ESA and AURA/Caltech]
M45 Pleiades www.noao.edu/image_gallery/html/im1116.html [credit: T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage), Richard Cool (University of Arizona) and WIYN]
From the Pleiades to the Hyades www.deepskycolors.com/archive/2011/11/06/from-the-Pleiades-to-the-Hyades.html [credit: Rogelio Bernal Andreo]
Messier 035 Atlas Image commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Messier_035_2MASS.jpg [credit: Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), a joint project of the University of Massachusetts and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation]
Globular cluster 47 Tucanae www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic1510a/ [credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration]
The oldest cluster in its cloud www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1428a/ [credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA]
An unexpected population of young-looking stars www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1244a/ [credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA]
View of a globular cluster (artist’s impression) www.spacetelescope.org/videos/heic1321c/ [credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Kornmesser]
All that glitters www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1449a/ [credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA]
In this Crash Course series, marvel at the wonders of astronomy with your host for this intergalactic adventure, the Bad Astronomer himself -- Phil Plait. In just 40 short lessons, you will learn the basics of the oldest science known to humanity.
Be sure to check out links to relevant Photos in the description for each video.