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News Release 17 of 291

September 12, 2013 11:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2013-36

Hubble Uncovers Largest Known Population of Star Clusters

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Image: Globular Star Clusters in Galaxy Cluster Abell 1689

Globular Star Clusters in Galaxy Cluster Abell 1689STScI-PRC2013-36a

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Hubble Finds Galaxy Cluster Abell 1689 Full of Giant Star Clusters

Peering deep into the heart of the massive galaxy cluster Abell 1689, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has nabbed more than 160,000 globular clusters, the largest population ever seen.

The image at left, taken by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, shows the numerous galaxies that make up Abell 1689. The box near the center outlines one of the regions sampled by Hubble, containing a rich collection of globular clusters.

The monochromatic view at right, taken at visible wavelengths, zooms into the region packed with globular clusters. They appear as thousands of tiny white dots, which look like a blizzard of snowflakes. The larger white blobs are entire galaxies of stars.

Globular clusters, dense collections of hundreds of thousands of stars, are the homesteaders of galaxies, containing some of the oldest surviving stars in the universe. Almost 95 percent of globular cluster formation occurred within the first 1 billion or 2 billion years after our universe was born in the big bang 13.7 billion years ago.

Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys snapped these images from June 12 to 21, 2002, and between May 29 and July 8, 2010.

Members of the science team are John Blakeslee; Karla Alamo-Martinez and Rosa Gonzalez-Lopezlira, Center for Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, in Morelia; Myungkook James Jee, University of California, Davis; Patrick Cote and Laura Ferrarese, DAO/NRC Herzberg Astrophysics; Andres Jordan, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, in Santiago; Gerhardt Meurer, International Centre of Radio Astronomy Research, University of Western Australia, in Perth; Eric Peng, Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Peking University; and Michael West, Maria Mitchell Observatory, in Nantucket, Mass.

Object Name: Abell 1689

Image Type: Astronomical/Annotated

Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Blakeslee (NRC Herzberg Astrophysics Program, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory), and K. Alamo-Martinez (National Autonomous University of Mexico)

Acknowledgment: H. Ford (JHU)

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Galaxy Cluster Abell 1689 Image Type: Astronomical Galaxy Cluster Abell 1689 Globular Clusters in Abell 1689 Image Type: Astronomical Globular Clusters in Abell 1689

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