NGC 5053

Monday , 25, May 2015 Leave a comment
NGC 5053
NGC 5053

For a full size image click here.

Distance: 56,700 Light Years
Magnitude: 9.47
Size: 10.5 Arc Minutes
Age: 16 Billion Years
Telescope: RC 10” 2000mm FL
Camera: QSI 683
Mount: AP 1100
Exposure: L 11×180 Bin 1, RGB 20×90 Bin2

NGC 5053 is a globular cluster in the constellation Coma Berenices. NGC 5053 appears like a mix of a globular and open star cluster. It is not densely packed even in the core area so it can be easily resolved by large telescopes. A study in 2001 found that NGC 5053 contains 10 RR Lyrae variable stars. An RR Lyrae variable is a star with a pulsating variation in brightness with a cycle of .2 to 1 day. NGC 5053 also contains 28 blue stragglers at last count in 1995. A blue straggler star is thought to be the result of an interaction with another star that leaves the star stripped of its outer layers. This interaction causes the star to appear hotter than what would be possible in an old globular cluster. Another explanation is that they are binary stars in the process of merging and forming a larger hotter star.

An interesting discovery was made while studying NGC 5053. It was found that the cluster was metal poor and dissimilar to other clusters in the Milky Way. One theory for this was that NGC 5053 did not originate in our galaxy but was captured by an ongoing interaction with the Sagittarius dwarf spheroidal galaxy. This makes sense given its location in the intermediate halo of our galaxy. NGC 5053 is not the only globular cluster in the Milky Way acquired from the interaction with the Sagittarius dwarf spheroidal galaxy. Some others are NGC 4147, Palomar 2, Palomar 12, and Whiting 1.

This image was captured from my house in a Bortle 6 zone. It took two nights to capture this image due to the ever present marine layer that is common for May in southern California. The first night I captured all of the RGB data and the second night I was only able to capture 11 frames before the sky fogged over. Conditions were not great with humidity in the 80-90% range.

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