This scientific visualization presents a flight to a small globular star cluster and a few hundred thousand years of its development. Globular star clusters contain many thousands to millions of stars all orbiting around their common center of gravity. During the flight to and around the globular star cluster, time has been stopped to allow one to examine the structure of the cluster. After arrival, the stars begin their swarming orbits.
The visualization uses data from a simulation that followed the orbits of 6144 stars using the special purpose supercomputer GRAPE-4. This small globular star cluster is simulated in its early stages, with the sample of stars drawn from a zero-age main sequence. Hence, there are many more blue stars than would be found in a typical old globular cluster. The star brightnesses are calculated and calibrated to approximate what the human eye would see. The colors are a bit exaggerated in an attempt to compensate for desaturation during dome projection. For context, the globular cluster is placed within a random star field taken from the Yale Bright Star Catalog. The piece of the simulation shown here covers about 122 thousand years of the star cluster’s development. Time passes at a rate of about 2350 years per second, which corresponds to 78 years per frame at 30 frames per second.
Visualization: Frank Summers (STScI);
Simulation: Simon Portegies Zwart (Boston University)
Production: April 23, 2004
Publication: November 28, 2016