October 29, 1997:
Hubble Catches Up with a Blue Straggler Star
Blue Stragglers in Globular Cluster 47 Tucanae
October 29, 1997
Space Telescope Science Institute
Astronomers have long been mystified by observations of a few hot, bright, apparently young stars residing in
well-established neighborhoods where most of their neighbors are much older. It's like finding teen-agers hanging
out in stellar retirement homes.
With the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers now have evidence that may eventually help solve the
45-year-old mystery of how these enigmatic stars, called blue stragglers, were formed. For the first time,
astronomers have confirmed that a blue straggler in the core of a globular cluster (a very dense community of stars) is
a massive, rapidly rotating star that is spinning 75 times faster than the Sun. This finding provides proof that blue
stragglers are created by collisions or other intimate encounters in an overcrowded cluster core.
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