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Hubble Telescope Spots Thousands of “Orphaned” Star Clusters Drifting Between Galaxies

A Hubble Space Telescope image shows a part of the Coma Cluster, a group of more than 1,000 galaxies, which…

A Hubble Space Telescope image shows a part of the Coma Cluster, a group of more than 1,000 galaxies, which is 300 million light years from Earth.

Credit: NASA / ESA / J. Mack / STScI) / J. Madrid / Australian Telescope National Facility

A huge cosmic district home to more than 1

,000 gravity bound Galactic neighbors blows with thousands of disgusting star clusters, images from Hubble Space Telescope has revealed.

While conducting a comprehensive study of the Coma cluster of galaxies, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope estimated 22,426 globular star clusters spread through space between these galaxies. Each of the dense spherical groups contains hundreds of thousands of old stars that accumulate because of their mutual gravity attraction, much like the larger galaxies that make up the Coma divide.

Located more than 300 million light years from the earth in the constellation of Coma Berenices, the Coma Cluster is one of the first places where scientists found evidence of dark matter, an invisible form of mass that can only be detected by the gravity effects in its visible environment. [Gallery: Dark Matter Throughout the Universe]

“Because global clusters are much smaller than the entire galaxies – and much more abundant – they are a much better tracker of how the fabric in space is distorted by Coma Cluster gravity,” NASA officials said in a statement.

Astronomers believe that the wandering star clusters once belonged to Comrades galaxies but were “orphaned from their homeless galaxies near collisions inside the trafficless cluster,” NASA officials said. Hubble images have shown that some of these outcast star clusters extend into “bridge-like patterns”, as NASA officials said are “telltale evidence of interactions between galaxies where they gravity kill each other like pulling taffy”.

Astronomers have investigated the galaxies and starvents of Comakluster since 2006, when the spacecraft Hubble began collecting data for the Coma Cluster Treasury Survey using an instrument called Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). But that project was stalled when ACS suffered an electronic crash and went to safe mode later that year. The astronauts stopped repairing the camera during the STS-125 Hubble Service Mission in 2009.

Instead of the ACS data they originally estimated, an astronomer team led by Juan Madrid from the Australian Telescope National Facility in Sydney came up with a solution to fill in the gaps. Madrid and his colleagues, along with a crew of postgraduate researchers, “deliberately pulled many Hubble images of the galaxy cluster taken from different Hubble observer programs” to sew a mosaic of Coma Cluster’s central region, NASA officials said.

“One of the cool aspects of our research is that it shows the amazing science that will be possible with NASA’s planned WFIRST infrared survey telescope (WFIRST), which will have a much larger field of vision than Hubble,” said Madrid. “We will be able to form the entire galaxy cluster at once.”

Their entire census of Coma Cluster was published November 9 in The Astrophysical Journal.

Email Hanneke Weitering at [email protected] or follow her @hannekescience . Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on

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