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A cluster of stars. Most of the stars are very small and uniform in size, and they are notably bluish and cluster more densely together toward the center of the image. Some appear larger in the foreground. The stars give away to a dark background at the corners of the image.

Hubble Uncovers a Celestial Fossil

This densely populated group of stars is the globular cluster NGC 1841, which is part of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way galaxy that lies about 162,000 light-years away. Satellite galaxies are bound by gravity in orbits around a more massive host galaxy. We typically think of the Andromeda Galaxy as our galaxy’s nearest galactic companion, but it is more accurate to say that Andromeda is the nearest galaxy that is not in orbit around the Milky Way galaxy. In fact, dozens of satellite galaxies orbit our galaxy and they are far closer than Andromeda. The largest and brightest of these is the LMC, which is easily visible to the unaided eye from the southern hemisphere under dark sky conditions away from light pollution.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Sarajedini

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