Globular clusters circle the Milky Way

Gary Zientara/Mount Sangre Observatory

M3 Globular Star Cluster in constellation Canes Venatici imaged March 25.

This dense spherical swarm of stars is called the M3 Globular Cluster and lies some 34,000 light years from Earth. It is found in the constellation Canes Venatici (Latin for "hunting dogs"). It is one of over 150 such clusters located in a random spherical pattern around the Milky Way. It is one of the oldest objects in our galaxy at 11.4 billion years old and may even predate the Milky Way itself.

Some astrophysicists hypothesize that globular clusters are actually remnants of other perhaps older galaxies that were gravitationally absorbed by the Milky Way. Considering that our known universe is 13.8 billion years old, M3 is quite the ancient one. M3 contains at least 500,000 stars many of which are reaching the latter stages of their lives. There are also young-looking blue stars called, "blue stragglers" that astronomers think were formed by merging with other stars by "sucking away" their gasses thus giving new life to the the more massive star. I call them stellar vampires.

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