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News Release Archive:

News Release 346 of 959

October 24, 2006 10:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2006-33

Hubble Yields Direct Proof of Stellar Sorting in a Globular Cluster

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Image: Stellar Sorting in Globular Cluster 47 Tucanae

Stellar Sorting in Globular Cluster 47 TucanaeSTScI-PRC2006-33

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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).

Object Names: 47 Tucanae, NGC 104

Image Type: Astronomical/Illustration

Ground-Based Image Credit: Very Large Telescope/European Southern Observatory, R. Kotak and H. Boffin (ESO)

Hubble Image Credit: NASA, ESA and G. Meylan (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne)

NEWS RELEASE IMAGES

The above montage includes these images:

Very Large Telescope Image of 47 Tucanae Image Type: Astronomical Very Large Telescope Image of 47 Tucanae Hubble Space Telescope (ACS) Image of 47 Tucanae Image Type: Astronomical Hubble Space Telescope (ACS) Image of 47 Tucanae

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