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White Dwarf Stars in Open Cluster NGC 6791
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White Dwarf Stars in Open Cluster NGC 6791

July 10, 2008

In studying the dimmest burned-out stars in globular star cluster NGC 6791, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a paradox: three different populations of stars exist in an object where all the stars should have formed at the same time out of an interstellar cloud of gas and dust.

[Left] — This is a ground-based telescopic view of NGC 6791, located 13,300 light-years away in the constellation Lyra. The green inset box shows the view with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys.

[Top right] — The full Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys field is full of stars estimated to be 8 billion years old. Two background galaxies can be seen at upper left.

[Bottom right] — A blow up of view of a small region of the Advanced Camera for Surveys field reveals very faint white dwarfs. The blue circles identify hotter dwarfs that are 4 billion years old. The red circles identify cooler dwarfs that are 6 billion years old.



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