M6: The Butterfly Cluster

Let’s continue this site’s survey of Messier objects. Check some basic info if you’re joining us in mid-star-stream. Today, a return to the Scorpio constellation where we encountered M4. Unlike the globular clusters M2, 3, 4, and 5, the Butterfly is an open cluster. What’s the distinction? Check it out:

M6a.jpg

Image credit: By Ole Nielsen – http://www.ngc7000.org/ccd/m6-20050902-900.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1189995

Globular clusters, as the name suggests, are rather compact and mostly spherical in shape. Open clusters are more diffuse and often more varied in shape. It is thought the stars formed together in an interstellar cloud, but as the eons pass, they are tugged apart because they haven’t been quite as close in the early millions of years as a grouping. Think of them as a teenage clique that gradually breaks apart as members go off to different colleges or work experiences.

The individual stars here are a bit less than 100 million years old. Infants, compared to middle-aged celestial bodies like the sun.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Astronomy. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to M6: The Butterfly Cluster

  1. Pingback: M7: Ptolemy’s Drop of Scorpion Venom | Catholic Sensibility

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s