The Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys captured this stunning image of the globular cluster NGC 1783, a spectacular collection of suns in the Large Magellanic Cloud some 160,000 light years from Earth with a total mass of about 170,000 times that of the Sun. Based on the colour and brightness of its stars, NGC 1783 is thought to be less than 1.5 billion years old, a relative youngster when it comes to globular clusters. It is thought to have undergone at least two episodes of star formation 50 million to 100 million years apart.
In a Hubble Space Telescope survey of 2,753 young, blue star clusters in the neighbouring Andromeda Galaxy (M31), astronomers have found that M31 and our own galaxy have a similar percentage of newborn stars based on mass. The intensive survey was a unique collaboration between astronomers and “citizen scientists,” volunteers who provided invaluable help in analysing the mountain of data from Hubble.
While truly massive stars go out in a blaze of glory, intermediate-mass stars — those between roughly one and eight times the mass of the Sun — are somewhat quieter. Such stars eventually form cosmic objects known as planetary nebulae, so named because of their vague resemblance to planets when seen through early, low-resolution telescopes.