M67 Open Star Cluster

M67 star cluster

M67 Star Cluster

Astronomers believe that our Sun was born in a star cluster approximately 4.6 billion years ago. Of all of the candidate star clusters that have been studied, M67 is very interesting, because the stars in this cluster have an overall chemical composition and chemical abundance very similar to that of our Sun. In 2009, an astronomer named Bengt Gustafsson at the University of Uppsala in Sweden identified a near identical solar twin for our Sun having an age and chemical composition closer to our Sun than any other star in the galaxy, and that near identical twin is a star in M67. M67 has an age that is close to the age of our Sun as well. Most open star clusters are pulled apart by gravitational interactions with other stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, and the stars in the cluster are dispersed within about 10 millions years after the cluster is formed. However, M67 lies outside the plane of our galaxy, and as a result, has survived much longer than most open star clusters. M67 is the oldest open star cluster in the Messier catalog.

This image of M67 is an RGB color composite CCD image taken with an STL-11000M CCD using a Takahashi Epsilon 180ED telescope at f2.8. This image was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona.

M67 (NGC 2682)
Constellation: Cancer
RA: 08h 51m 24s Dec: +11d 49' 00" (J2000)
January 1 & 2, 2012
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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