New Hubble image shows colourful stars packed close together

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have released a stunning image of a globular cluster captured by Hubble Space Telescope that features thousands of colourful stars packed close together.

This tight grouping of thousands of stars is located near the edge of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way, ESA said.

The stars orbit closely to one another, like bees swarming around a hive. In the dense centre of one of these clusters, stars are 100 to 1,000 times closer together than the nearest stars are to our Sun, making planetary systems around them unlikely.

Space telescopes like Hubble can observe in the ultraviolet because they are positioned above Earth’s atmosphere, which absorbs most ultraviolet light, making it inaccessible to ground-based facilities.

This young globular cluster, NGC 1805, can be seen from the Southern Hemisphere, in the Dorado constellation, which is Portuguese for dolphinfish.

Usually, globular clusters contain stars that are born at the same time.

However, NGC 1805, is unusual as it appears to host two different populations of stars with ages millions of years apart.

Observing such clusters of stars can help astronomers understand how stars evolve, and what factors determine whether they end their lives as white dwarfs or explode as supernovae.