[M12, VLT/FORS1 (ESO)]

This ESO VLT photo shows the centre of the globular cluster Messier 12 as observed with the FORS-1 multi-mode instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope Cerro Paranal, Chile). The picture covers a region of about 3.5 arcmin on a side, corresponding to about 23 light years at the distance of Messier 12. It is based on data in five different filters: U, B, V, R and H-alpha. Here only the short exposures were used while for their scientific analysis, the authors used much longer exposures. Guido De Marchi (ESA) reduced the data and Kristina Boneva and Haennes Heyer (ESO) did the final image processing. The observations were obtained with very good conditions, the image quality ('seeing') being around 0.6 arcsec.

[M12 loses stars, artist's concept]

An artist's impression of the orbit of the globular cluster Messier 12 in the Milky Way. Due to gravitational disruption, this cluster continuously loses stars, in particular light ones. This process is enhanced when it passes through the central plane in which most of the Galaxy's stars and nebulae are located. The cluster emerges in a less dense state after such a passage. The stars that are lost move on in orbits similar to that of the cluster and populate the halo of the Milky Way.

  • Original ESO Press Release 04/06 (February 7, 2006)
  • More images from ESO

    Hartmut Frommert
    Christine Kronberg

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    Last Modification: June 20, 2006