NGC 6652 globular cluster close to 13.6 billion years old, one of the oldest objects in Milky Way

Senior Research Associate Margarita Sharina (Special Astrophysical Observatory) and Associate Professor Vladislav Shimansky (Kazan Federal University) studied the globular cluster NGC 6652.4.05957 and found out that its age is close to 13.6 billion years, which makes it one of the oldest objects in the Milky Way.

Globular clusters are mostly situated tens and hundreds of thousands of light years from Earth, and only the brightest stars in them can actually be studied. Margarita Sharina, a Kazan Federal University alumna, came up with the idea of researching the spectra of full star clusters several years ago.

- Advertisement -

Together with Vladislav Shimansky, she developed Cluster, a special software package to model such spectra. During their joint work, the two scientists have determined fundamental characteristics of almost 40 globular clusters.

In this paper, they analyzed the spectra of NGC 6652 obtained by the Cerro Tololo Observatory. The overall ratio of heavy elements in the cluster turned out to be unusually high. Furthermore, some anomalies in the ratio of several elements (carbon, nitrogen, sodium, magnesium, calcium, and titanium).

“For a long time, the consensus was that the younger the galactic object is, the higher its metallicity. Closer to the late 20th century, astronomers started to move away from this viewpoint,” explains Shimansky. “NGC 6652 is a rather old globular cluster, its age is about 13.6 billion years, according to various estimates. At the same time, its metallicity is rather high. The reason, hypothetically, is its unusual dynamics – the matter which formed the cluster has passed through the galactic disk multiple times and amassed the heavy elements synthesized there.”

Studying globular clusters with up to a million stars can help research the early stages of the Universe.

- Advertisement -

During this past decade, many large telescopes have been observing galactic and extragalactic globular clusters – natural laboratories which facilitate the studies of stars and galaxies. Many more interesting discoveries are to be made after more data is deciphered, concludes Shimansky.


Header Image – NGC 6652 – Image Credit : Kazan University

- Advertisement -
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

Mobile Application


Related Articles

Archaeologists reveal hundreds of ancient monuments using LiDAR

A new study published in the journal Antiquity has revealed hundreds of previously unrecorded monuments at Baltinglass in County Wicklow, Ireland.

Archaeologists use revolutionary GPR robot to explore Viking Age site

Archaeologist from NIKU are using a revolutionary new GPR robot to explore a Viking Age site in Norway’s Sandefjord municipality.

Highway construction delayed following Bronze Age discoveries

Excavations in preparation for the S1 Expressway have delayed road construction following the discovery of two Bronze Age settlements.

Archaeologists uncover possible phallus carving at Roman Vindolanda

Excavations at the Roman fort of Vindolanda have uncovered a possible phallus carving near Hadrian’s Wall.

Carbonised Herculaneum papyrus reveals burial place of Plato

An analysis of carbonised papyrus from the Roman town of Herculaneum has revealed the burial place of Plato.

Sealed 18th century glass bottles discovered at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

As part of a $40 million Mansion Revitalisation Project, archaeologists have discovered two sealed 18th century glass bottles at George Washington's Mount Vernon.

Study suggests human occupation in Patagonia prior to the Younger Dryas period

Archaeologists have conducted a study of lithic material from the Pilauco and Los Notros sites in north-western Patagonia, revealing evidence of human occupation in the region prior to the Younger Dryas period.

Fort excavation uncovers Roman sculpture

Archaeologists excavating Stuttgart’s Roman fort have uncovered a statue depicting a Roman god.