NASA Releases Dazzling Photo of the Milky Way's Densest Star Cluster
This was a fun briefing: My science advisor just showed me this Hubble shot of the most crowded place in our galaxy. pic.twitter.com/E2SeO9tumt— President Obama (@POTUS) June 3, 2015
The Arches Cluster is 25,000 lightyears from Earth, composed of particularly bright stars that quickly burn through their fuel and die spectacular, early deaths. But in spite of its brightness, it still can't be seen with the naked eye as a result of obscuring dust clouds, so Hubble took the above image using detectors that collect light from infrared, X-ray, and radio band wavelengths.
NASA further described the cluster as follows:
The Arches cluster is so dense that in a region with a radius equal to the distance between the sun and its nearest star there would be over 100,000 stars! At least 150 stars within the cluster are among the brightest ever discovered in the Milky Way. These stars are so bright and massive that they will burn their fuel within a short time (on a cosmological scale that means just a few million years). Then they will die in spectacular supernova explosions. Due to the short lifetime of the stars in the cluster the gas between the stars contains an unusually high amount of heavier elements, which were produced by earlier generations of stars.