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Weird Object: Omega Centauri

No. 36: Cannibalized Visitor

GatheringPlace
GATHERING PLACE. The colossal Omega Centauri is the largest star cluster in the Milky Way. New evidence shows that it came from somewhere else.
Daniel Verschatse/Observatorio Antilhue, Chile

The sight of countless brilliant stars in an inky black sky exhilarates the human spirit, for reasons no one can explain. Such intensity reaches its epitome in a crowded star cluster — and the best of these are the “globulars.”  

Some 150 known globular clusters surround the center of the Milky Way. The stars within them not only array in a spherical formation, but they also whiz around the cluster’s center in random elliptical orbits. Adding a final layer to this motif, the globulars themselves form a vast ball-shaped pattern around our galactic core like lights on a spherical crystal chandelier — meaning they ignore the Milky Way’s busy flat plane, which is home to its spiral arms and virtually everything else.

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