News Release Archive:

News Release 53 of 71

August 28, 1995 12:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1995-32

Hubble Space Telescope Finds Stellar Graveyard


Image: Hubble Identifies White Dwarf Population in Globular Cluster M4

Hubble Identifies White Dwarf Population in Globular Cluster M4STScI-PRC1995-32

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[Left] - A view of globular cluster M4 (fourth object in the Messier catalog of star clusters and nebulae). The nearest globular cluster to Earth (7,000 light-years away), and containing more than 100,000 stars, M4 was the target of a Hubble Space Telescope search for white dwarf stars. Ancient red giant stars are predominant in this view from a ground-based telescope. The field is 47 light-years across. The box (right of center) shows the small area that Hubble telescope probed.

[Right] - A Hubble Space Telescope color image of a small portion of the cluster only 0.63 light-years across reveals eight white dwarf stars (inside blue circles) among the cluster's much brighter population of yellow sun-like stars and cooler red dwarf stars. Hubble reveals a total of 75 white dwarfs in one small area within M4, out of the total of about 40,000 white dwarfs that the cluster is predicted to contain. The Hubble results will allow astronomers to refine theoretical predictions of the rate at which white dwarfs cool an important prerequisite for making reliable estimates for the age of the universe and of our Milky Way galaxy, based on white dwarf temperatures. The image was taken with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.

Object Names: M4, NGC 6121

Image Type: Astronomical/Illustration

Left Credit: Kitt Peak National Observatory 0.9-meter telescope, National Optical Astronomy Observatories; courtesy M. Bolte (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Right Credit: Harvey Richer (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada) and NASA


The above montage includes these images:

Globular Star Cluster M4 Image Type: Astronomical Globular Star Cluster M4 White Dwarfs Amid Sun-Like Stars and Red Stars in Globular Cluster M4 Image Type: Astronomical White Dwarfs Amid Sun-Like Stars and Red Stars in Globular Cluster M4

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