Orbital observatory “Hubble” received photos of one of the “oldest” parts of the Milky Way – the globular cluster NGC 6139 in the constellation of Scorpio. Pictures of his stars, born before the formation of the Galaxy, were published on the telescope’s website.
Globular clusters are close “families” of several tens or hundreds of thousands of stars existing on the outskirts of galaxies. It is believed that they originated in the distant past, which is supported by a large number of white dwarfs and neutron stars within them. The age of the most ancient of them, judging by the individual luminaries in such clusters, approaches the time of the Big Bang or even exceeds it.
Similar anomalies and the assumed key role of globular clusters in the formation of galaxies make astronomers, including the Hubble research team, closely monitor all known objects of this kind and conduct a kind of “census” of their elderly residents.
Counting the number of pulsars, black holes, white dwarfs and other degenerate objects, scientists hope to understand how quickly stars evolve within them and how these clusters participated in the birth of the Milky Way. Interest in them increased after the discovery of the first gravitational traces of the merger of black holes – the current results of observations on LIGO and ViRGO indicate that their pairs are born inside similar star “nursing homes”.
New images of the cluster NGC 6139, as the astronomers hope, will help resolve some of the contradictions that have accumulated in recent years around the age of similar objects. The fact is that the new data on the spectrum of these luminaries indicate that their “old houses” did not appear right after the birth of the universe, but 2-3 billion years after the Big Bang, at the same time when the Milky Way appeared.
Observations of the motion and properties of stars within NGC 6139, as the scientists hope, will help us to clarify their age and understand what role they played in the formation of the Galaxy and whether they participated in this process in principle.