NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has provided astronomers with the best observational evidence to date that globular clusters sort out stars according to their mass, governed by a gravitational billiard ball game between stars. Heavier stars slow down and sink to the cluster's core, while lighter stars pick up speed and move across the cluster to its periphery.
[Left] - A photo of the globular star cluster 47 Tucanae taken with the Very Large Telescope in Chile. It is one of the densest globular clusters in the Southern Hemisphere. The cluster contains 1 million stars.
[Right] - A NASA Hubble Space Telescope color photo of the core of 47 Tucanae. Multiple photos of this region allowed astronomers to track the "behive swarm" motion of stars. Precise velocities were obtained for nearly 15,000 stars in this cluster. This image was taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys.
The international science team was made of the following scientists: D.E. McLaughlin (University of Leicester), J. Anderson (Rice University), G. Meylan (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne), K. Gebhardt (University of Texas at Austin), C. Pryor (Rutgers University), D. Minniti (Pontifica Universidad Catolica), and S. Phinney (Caltech).
Ground-Based Image Credit: Very Large Telescope/European Southern Observatory, R. Kotak and H. Boffin (ESO)