back to article Hubble sharpens measurement of distance to ancient cluster

Boffins have combined NASA’s aging Hubble Space Telescope and some good old-fashioned trigonometry to measure the distance to a cluster of stars that were formed shortly after the big bang. The researchers pointed Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 at a globular stellar cluster known as NGC 6397, which had previously been the …

  1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Nice one!

    Great work tightening down the margins of error on the distance measurement (always hard in astronomy). NGC 6397 is actually a very nice object even in binoculars. I spotted it from down-under when I was a guest at the CSIRO in Sydney, back in May 2011. Would have loved to have brought the telescope, but even with binoculars, the southern skies are just fabulous

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Nice one!

      Indeed, I grew up in NZ and at university in Dunedin we would occasionally walk up the hill above the city and sit/lie star gazing. The Milky Way blazed overhead. One of us was a knowledgeable stargazer who would point out landmarks and pronounce on the 'satellite or meteorite' questions.

      Dunedin is a city of 100k souls, 110k or so during term time. Yet the skies are still dark enough.

      I miss the southern stars. In London you can hardly see any. Here in Dundee we can see some and reasonably dark skies are not far away. We saw the Aurora, faintly, from a dark beach along the coast from here.

      Friends in Dunedin who lived up a south facing hill saw the Australis one from their house once. Dunedin is not far south of the 45thS parallel. So much further from the pole than Dundee is.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Randy Hudson

    7800 Light Years?!

    So this other galaxy is inside the Milky Way?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 7800 Light Years?!

      Surprised me too, but it's correct:

    2. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: 7800 Light Years?!

      "So this other galaxy is inside the Milky Way?"


      1. It's a globular cluster not a galaxy. *

      2. The Milky Way is wide but it is also thin. Look out of the main disk into the third dimension. The cluster orbits the galaxy along with the other halo objects.

      * "This globular cluster is small but that galaxy is far away" (with apologies to father Ted)

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

        Re: 7800 Light Years?!

        The galaxy itself contains 100 million stars,

        It's 100,000 light years side to side,

        It bulges in the middle, 16,000 light years thick,

        But out by us it's just 3,000 light years wide,


        Thanks to Monty Python.

        1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
          Thumb Up

          Re: 7800 Light Years?!

          its even better if you ising it toy yourself in Eric Idles voice...

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

            Re: 7800 Light Years?!

            "its even better if you ising it toy yourself in Eric Idles voice..."

            Even better (IMO, YMMV) - there is a version sung by the late, great Stephen Hawking. It's on the Monty Python Youtube channel.

            BTW, a couple of years ago Eric Idle said in an interview that since he wrote the song, he had to update it at least a dozen times in order to keep up with astrophysics.

    3. rsole

      Re: 7800 Light Years?!

      It's not a galaxy it is a globular cluster. These generally exist within the confines of a galaxy and in this case it is the Milky Way.

    4. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: 7800 Light Years?!

      So this other galaxy is inside the Milky Way?

      I think the point is that the stars in the close-to-us cluster are very old.

      What I find interesting is that we look into the deep universe to see galaxies and stars that formed soon after the Big Bang, and yet we can do the same just by looking upwards at night!

  4. DontFeedTheTrolls

    Just popping down to the chemist...

    Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space.

    Douglas Adams.

  5. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Beer for the NASA boffins --->

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Avatar of They Silver badge


    I don't understand the description of the maths involved. But a real life use of trig that any GCSE student will understand. (being one of those things in maths they can't apparently understand the need for.)

  8. JaitcH

    Hubble - A Generous Gift From The USA

    Given it's ignominious birth, with the main mirror was sent aloft ground incorrectly, compromising the telescope's capabilities, the Hubble satellite must be one of the best satellites ever launched.

    Thank you, USA.

    P.S. There are two more telescopes as big and powerful as the Hubble Space Telescope. The telescopes were built by contractors for the National Reconnaissance Office, a U.S. spy agency. The telescopes have 2.4-metre (7.9-foot) mirrors, just like the Hubble, but they have 100 times the field of view. They are in storage in Rochester, New York.

  9. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: "Mysterious Dr X says, Universe is NOT Expanding" at CanadaFreePress

      Faux Science Slayer promoting his crap web site, how surprising.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Mysterious Dr X says, Universe is NOT Expanding" at CanadaFreePress

        @GK - but deleted by moderator - was it especially egregious this time?

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

          Re: "Mysterious Dr X says, Universe is NOT Expanding" at CanadaFreePress

          > ...especially egregious this time?

          Not one of the worst. Still delete-worthy. Why that guy is still allowed to post here is a mystery to me.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Mysterious Dr X says, Universe is NOT Expanding" at CanadaFreePress

            Though if banned he'll just add to his website this irrefutable truth that he's now feared by "Them". Far too much to hope that he might instead reflect that running into random rooms and shouting irrelevancies and then declining to engage in conversation is just downright crass.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019