The globular star cluster Messier 4: and the location of a curious star

This image from the Wide Field Imager attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory shows the spectacular globular star cluster Messier 4. This great ball of ancient stars is one of the closest of such stellar systems to the Earth and appears in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion) close to the bright red star Antares.

New observations with ESO's Very Large Telescope have revealed that one star — marked on this picture — has much more lithium than the other stars in the cluster that have been studied. The source of this lithium is mysterious. Normally this element is gradually destroyed over the billions of years of a star's life, but this one star amongst thousands seems to have the secret of eternal youth. It has either somehow managed to retain its original lithium, or it has found a way to enrich itself with freshly made lithium.



About the Image

Release date:5 September 2012, 12:00
Related releases:eso1235
Size:7982 x 7712 px

About the Object

Name:Composite image, M 4, Messier 4, NGC 6121
Type:• Milky Way : Star
• Milky Way : Star : Grouping : Cluster : Globular
Distance:7000 light years

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