From MSNBC, October 25, 2004|
Puzzling star clump spotted near our galaxy
Globular cluster? Dwarf galaxy? Experts don't know, but it could
shed light on Milky Way mysteries
Astronomers have spotted a faint cluster of stars in or near our galaxy, but
they're not sure what to call the grouping.
The star clump is a companion to our galaxy. It could be an object known as a
dwarf galaxy. Or it might be a globular cluster, one of more than 100 that
float within the gravitational influence of the Milky Way. A handful of
globular clusters are thought to be remnants of very ancient galaxies
consumed to make ours larger.
The cluster, cataloged as SDSSJ1049+5103, resides not along the main plane of the Milky Way but in a sparsely populated halo, hovering about 60 degrees above the main galactic plane.
It is 150,000 light-years away from us in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major, which includes the Big Dipper. The cluster is a similar distance away from the center of the galaxy.