|13 : 26.8 (h:m)
|-47 : 29 (deg:m)
|36.3 (arc min)
Discovered by Edmond Halley in 1677.
This is the biggest of all globular clusters in our Milky Way galaxy. With its about 5 million solar masses, it is about 10 times as massive as other big globulars, and has about the same mass as the smallest whole galaxies. It is also the most luminous Milky Way globular, and the brightest globular cluster in the sky. In the Local Group, it is outshined only by the brightest globular cluster G1 in the Andromeda Galaxy M31.
In 1999, a team led by Young-Wook Lee of Yonsei University, South Korea, obtained a color-magnitude diagram (CMD) for 50,000 member stars of Omega Centauri with the 0.9-m telescope of CTIO in Chile. Studies of this CMD indicate that the stars of this cluster did not all form at once but over a 2-billion-year period of time, with several starburst peaks. This was the first time that multiple populations were found in a globular cluster. The team who carried out this work speculates that this result may indicate that Omega Centauri might be the remnant of a nucleus of a small galaxy which has merged with our Milky Way.
The image in this page was obtained by David Malin with the Anglo-Australian Telescope. This image is copyrighted and may be used for private purpose only. For any other kind of use, including internet mirroring and storing on CD-ROM, please contact the Photo Permissions Department (photo at aaoepp.aao.gov.au) of the Anglo Australian Observatory.
Omega Centauri had been listed in Ptolemy's catalog as a star. Halley was the first to document its nonstellar nature, and listed it as "luminous spot or patch in Centaurus" in his historical list of six such objects. Lacaille included it in his catalog as number I.5.
In the SAC 110 best NGC object list. In John Caldwell's observing list. In the Astronomical League's Southern Sky Binocular Club list. Caldwell 80.
Last Modification: March 22, 1998