If our Sun were part of M53, the
night sky would glow like a jewel box of bright stars.
M53, also known as NGC 5024, is one of about 250
globular clusters that survive in our Galaxy.
Most of the stars in
are older and redder than our Sun, but some enigmatic stars appear to be bluer and younger.
stars might contradict the hypothesis that all the stars in
M53 formed at nearly the same time.
These unusual stars are known as
blue stragglers and are unusually common in M53.
After much debate, blue stragglers are now thought to be stars rejuvenated by fresh matter falling in from a binary star companion.
By analyzing pictures of globular clusters like the
above image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers
use the abundance of stars like
blue stragglers to help
determine the age of the globular cluster and hence a limit on the age of the universe.
M53, visible with a binoculars towards the
constellation of Bernice's Hair (Coma Berenices),
contains over 250,000 stars and is one of the furthest
globulars from the center of our Galaxy.