XMM-Newton images of Globular Clusters
Credit: N.A. Webb, D. Barret, M. Servillat, B. Gendre; ESA

Heart of Globulars

Globular clusters, like M55, Omega Centauri, M22, NGC 3201, NGC 2808 and M13 are dense, spheroidal groups containing millions of old stars. These objects may be the building blocks out of which galaxies formed. Some of the stars contained in globular clusters are believed to be nearly as old as the Universe itself. They are extremely interesting objects. Astronomers can study the outer regions of globulars but studying the crowded inner regions is difficult due to the high density of stars. What lurks at the center of these clusters? One way to find out is to use X-ray observatories, since most of the cluster members don't shine very brightly in X-rays. X-ray images, like the montage above (obtained by the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory) help reveal the remnants left behind by the evolution of the massive cluster members - exotic things like neutron stars and white dwarfs. Black holes anyone?

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Wednesday, 19-Mar-2014 17:47:25 EDT