When we think of our galaxy, the Milky Way, we imagine a flattened disc of stars, gas and dust, with spiral arms and a central bulge. Sometimes overlooked, and still something of a puzzle, are its attendant globular star clusters, many of which climb high above the plane of the galaxy as they orbit its centre. Most congregate in the part of the sky that lies towards the galactic centre, 27,000 light years away in Scorpius.Often called simply globulars, they hold hundreds of thousands of stars, sometimes a million or more, in a near-spherical form, with the stars packed closer together as we approach the core. They range from a few tens to perhaps 200 light years across and some may contain a central black hole. Typically, the stars within globulars are ancient, born in the early Universe when elements heavier than hydrogen and helium were scarce. Such old stars...
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