At 16,700 light years from the earth is the globular cluster 47 Tucanae. Also called NGC 104, or simply 47 Tuc, it is located in the constellation Tucana. It has a diameter of about 120 light years, and can be seen with the naked eye, with a visual magnitude of 4.0. It has the number 47 in the designation of Flamsteed.
Globular clusters are giant spherical clouds formed by old stars that are held together by gravity. They are found spinning around the nuclei of the galaxies, in the same way that satellites orbit the Earth.
The cluster 47 Tucanae is made up of millions of stars, and many of those in its nucleus have unusual properties. The study of objects found in these types of clusters is vital to understand how they form and interact.
The globular cluster 47 Tucanae was discovered by the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the year 1751. It is the second brightest globular cluster that exists, behind Omega Centaur. Its main characteristics are that it has an intense shine and that it has a very dense core.
To locate the cluster 47 Tucanae, look for the yellow star Hydri and move 5 degrees north, in the southern hemisphere. We will see it forming a parallelogram with the stars eta Tucanae, theta Tucanae and SAO 255631.
Inside the cluster 47 Tucanae, 22 pulsars have been detected that emit signals in thousandths of a second.
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