Tiny Distant Globular Cluster Discovered

It’s not often that we find new star clusters within our own Galaxy.  Technology has been good enough to see the stars in the Milky Way for decades, and the grunt work in identifying and cataloguing local clusters is more or less finished, but occasionally we get lucky.

GMOS image of Kim 2, in g band. The image is 4 arcminutes across. Credit: GMOS image/ Gemini Observatory

A tiny and extremely distant globular star cluster has been found in the outskirts of the far side of our home galaxy.  Currently named Kim 2, it pales in comparison to the other 150 Milky Way globular clusters, containing 10-20 times fewer stars and having less than half the stellar density.

The new star cluster was discovered by Dongwon Kim, a PhD student at the Australian National University (ANU), together with a team of astronomers (Helmut Jerjen, Antonino Milone, Dougal Mackey, and Gary Da Costa) who are conducting the Stromlo Milky Way Satellite Survey at ANU.

One theory of globular clusters is that they are the remnants of ancient protogalaxies that collided to form our much larger Milky Way.  Only the densest parts of the ancient galaxies survived, which today give us the tightly packed globular clusters that are spherically distributed about the bulge of our galaxy.

This discovery will help to shed light on the evolution of the Milky Way and other galaxies of the local group.

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