View larger. | This is a Hubble Space Telescope image of a pair of open star clusters believed to be in the early stages of merging. They’re not in our Milky Way galaxy, though. They’re in the Large Magellanic Cloud, inside the Tarantula Nebula, some 170,000 light-years from Earth. But now a unique pair of merging open star clusters has been found within our Milky Way. Image via NASA.
Old open star clusters merging
Open star clusters tend to be young collections of sibling stars, born together from a cosmic cloud or nebula in space. Open clusters are like families of stars. They’re still loosely bound by gravity and still moving together through space. We know thousands of them in our Milky Way galaxy, and amateur astronomers love to gaze at them through small telescopes and binoculars, under dark skies. Most open star clusters don’t survive more than several orbits around our galaxy’s center before being disrupted and dispersed. But astronomer Denilso Camargo in Brazil reached out this week (early October 2021) about a new discovery of what he called:
… the first old binary star cluster within our Milky Way galaxy.
Close encounters between open star clusters are ...