NGC 5139 Omega Centauri

Fred Calvert, Cold Spring Observatory

 Appearing almost as large as a full moon to the naked eye, Omega Centauri is the biggest and brightest of the 150 known  globular clusters in the Milky Way galaxy. About 10 million stars orbit the center of the cluster which stretches 150 light years across at a distance from Earth of about 15,000 light years. It is estimated that the stars in the core of the cluster are only 0.1 light years apart. In recent years Hubble Telescope Data indicates evidence of an intermediate-mass black hole at the center of the cluster, suggesting that Omega Centauri is actually the core of a failed dwarf galaxy which was disrupted during formation and absorbed by the Milky Way galaxy. Omega Centauri has been cataloged as many different types of object as far back as 150 A.D., but was first recognized as a globular cluster by Scottish astronomer James Dunlop in 1826. Data for this image was acquired with a Takahashi FSQ ED 106 / f/5 telescope, Paramount PME mount using an SBIG STL- 11000M CCD camera to collect the LRGB data. Exposure: Luminance 60 minutes and Red, Green and Blue 30 minutes each for a total of 2.5 hours.

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