The globular cluster Omega Centauri makes for an impressive sight — millions of stars gravitationally bound into a beautiful sphere, its core alight from the glow of densely packed bodies. A recent study has unveiled a new discovery at the heart of this cluster: five long-anticipated pulsars.
What Lies At the Core
Image of two globular clusters (can you spot them? Look carefully!) in the Milky Way. Omega Centauri is brighter and more massive than either of these — or any other Milky Way globular cluster. [ESO/D. Minniti/VVV Team]Located just 17,000 light-years away, Omega Centauri is an intriguing object of study. Though we know of more than 200 globular clusters — compact spheres of old stars — that lie in the outer regions of the Milky Way, Omega Centauri is the most massive and the most luminous. Its properties have led scientists to speculate that this cluster was once a dwarf galaxy that was captured by the Milky Way and had its outer stars stripped away.
Omega Centauri’s large mass and unusual formation history open two interesting possibilities:
The cluster might contain massive black holes.
Theory predicts that the conditions at the center of massive stellar clusters are ripe for ...