160,000 light years away sits the Large Magellanic Cloud, an irregular dwarf galaxy that orbits our own Milky Way galaxy. It’s a fascinating object, actually, filled with stars, gas, dust, and all the usual trinkets a galaxy has.
It also has an assortment of globular clusters — roughly spherical collections of a few hundred thousand stars bound by their own gravity orbiting the cluster center like bees buzzing around a hive. NGC 1846 is one such globular cluster, and it looks like most of the others, if a bit sparse and loosely distributed. But it has something that does make it rather special. You can see it if you peruse this lovely Hubble Space Telescope picture that was just released:
[Click to embiggen, or get a much larger version.]
Isn’t that pretty? As much as I like it, the most interesting thing in it, though is actually rather difficult to see here. Look at the center of the cluster, then let your eye go straight down, nearly to the bottom of the frame. See the green spark there? It’s the only green thing in the entire picture. It’s not a star — there are no green stars — but it used to be…