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June 28, 2022
Hubble Space Telescope captures image of globular cluster Liller 1
The dazzling image consists of a dense starfield populated with young and old stars

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured an image of the globular cluster Liller 1, located in the bulge of the Miilky Way. It’s proximity to the galactic plane makes it a difficult cluster to study, but Hubble was able to image it non optical wavelengths, capturing the muted red tones of the cluster obscured by a dense scattering of piercing blue stars. Liller 1 is located at a distance of 30,000 light years, located in the southern constellation of Scorpius. Dust and gas obscures most of the wavelengths in optical light, especially in blue light. However, some red and infrared light passes through, which Hubble has used to image the cluster.

Liller 1 contains populations of both old and new stars. Most of the globular clusters known contain very old stars, and almost none have new stars being formed. Liller 1 contains at least two stellar populations, one made up of 12 billion year old stars, and another with stars that are between one and two billion years old. The populations of the stars indicate that the cluster was able to form stars for an astonishingly large period of time, or that it may not be a single cluster at all, but two or more clusters that have merged together under the influence of gravity.

Liller 1 may belong to a class of clusters that have coalesced together in galactic bulges. Liller 1 is one of the most massive globular clusters in the Milky Way, and weighs around 2.3 million solar masses. The stars are so densely populated that it creates a rare environment where stars can collide and interact frequently. The collisions and interactions can lead to the formation of all kinds of strange objects, including low mass X-ray binaries, millisecond pulsars, and blue straggler stars that are bluer and more luminous than the other stars in the cluster.

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