13.7 billion years had passed since the Big Bang, and you could say that the Universe is ‘young’ in some peculiar sense. Some scientists might be surprised about the fact that clusters of galaxies existed when the Universe was a lot younger – at only about 700 million-years-old. But recent observations are concluding that it’s possible.
By using the Hubble Space Telescope operated by NASA and ESA, astronomers had taken a shot at the NGC 6441 globular cluster that was born during the early stages of the Universe: 13 billion years ago.
Located at 44,000 light-years away from Earth
This is the staggering distance you need to travel if you ever want to explore the galaxy cluster NGC 6441 up-close. While it’s impossible to travel such distances with our technology, the structure is among the largest and most bright global clusters from the Milky Way. However, the cluster is located at 13,000 light-years from the center of the galaxy. This is huge, considering that Milky Way has a diameter of 100,000 light-years.
NGC 6441 is located in the southern constellation of Scorpius. Hubble captured a detailed image of the cluster, as it has been using the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). Here’s the outcome:
Credit for the picture: NASA / ESA / Hubble / G. Piotto.
The Hubble astronomers said:
The exact number of stars in such a cluster is difficult to discern,
It is estimated that together its stars weigh 1.6 million times the mass of the Sun, making NGC 6441 one of the most massive and luminous globular clusters in the Milky Way.
The NGC 6441 cluster has initially been discovered by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop two centuries ago on May 13, 1826. If there is any chance ever to reach the galaxy cluster, then that one is to get ourselves a wormhole and hop into it. But a wormhole is not a naturally occurring event, so we can hope that someone or something shall build one for us.