The globular cluster Omega Centauri, NGC 5139
AAO image reference AAT 89a.    « Previous || Next »

The globular cluster Omega Centauri, NGC 5139, NGC5139.jpg
Top left is NE. Image width is about 38 arc min
Image and text © 1999-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.

To the unaided eye this glorious globular cluster has the appearance of a hazy star and was frequently confused with Halley's comet when it drifted through Centaurus in 1986. One of the richest in the Milky Way, Omega Cen contains several million stars, but unlike its southern rival, 47 Tucanae, it has a relatively open structure. Like most galactic globular clusters, the stellar population of Omega Cen identifies it as one of the oldest objects associated with the Milky Way, indeed the age of many of its stars age is comparable to that of the Universe itself. The cluster also contains a large number of RR Lyrae variable stars which enable its distance to be determined as 17,000 light years.

Related Images
AAT 89.  The globular cluster Omega Centauri, NGC 5139
AAT 89b.The globular cluster Omega Centauri, NGC 5139 (wide field, landscape format)
Constellation of Centaurus (external site)

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1