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New Discovery: Globular Clusters Composed of Ancient Stars

On the right lies the globular star cluster UKS 1 and on the left lies a much less conspicuous new discovery, VVV CL001 — a previously unknown globular, one of just 160 known globular clusters in the Milky Way. The new globular appears as a faint grouping of stars about 25% of the width of the image from the left edge, and about 60% of the way from bottom to top. (Photo: ESO/D. Minniti/VVV Team)\n

The European Southern Observatory's VISTA survey telescope recently discovered two clusters of very old stars inside our Milky Way galaxy.

These 'globular clusters' join only 158 other known clusters under this distinction in our galaxy, making them a relatively rare find. A globular cluster, according to Space.com, is composed of at least 100,000 stars and are among the oldest in the universe.

Although the cluster on the far right of the below image (UKS 1) steals the show, but scientists discovered using Vista survey data the fainter cluster in the center of the image (VVV CL001).

The team found a second globular cluster (VVV CL002), which is the closest known to the center of the Milky Way (see below).

The VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) survey team found these new clusters as part of their study of the central parts of the Milky Way in infrared light.

Watch this video from Space.com that shows the difference between visible light and the infrared version that was able to locate these new clusters:

According to the release, UKS 1, which outshines the two new globular clusters, was previously the dimmest cluster in the Milky Way. Due to absorption and reddening of starlight by interstellar dust, these objects can only be seen in infrared light and VISTA, the world’s largest survey telescope, is ideally suited to searching for new clusters hidden behind dust in the central parts of the Milky Way

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