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NGC 3532 (Wishing Well Cluster)


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NGC 3532
Open Cluster (散開星団)
Wishing Well Cluster (願いの井戸星団)
OC II1m


別名 (Other names)
OCL 839, ESO 128-SC31, Caldwell 91, Football Cluster, C 1104-584

明るさ (Brightness)
3等級

星座 (Constellation)

りゅうこつ座 (Car) (Carina)

距離 (Distance)
1,300光年 (1,300 light-years)

NGC 3532 (Wishing Well Cluster) is an open cluster located 1,300 light years from the Earth in the constellation Carina.

NGC 3532 (Wishing Well Cluster) : Picture

NGC 3532 (Wishing Well Cluster)
NGC 3532 (Wishing Well Cluster)
(C) ESO
NGC 3532 is a bright open cluster located some 1,300 light-years away in the constellation of Carina. It is informally known as the Wishing Well Cluster, as it resembles scattered silver coins which have been dropped into a well. It is also referred to as the Football Cluster, although how appropriate this is depends on which side of the Atlantic you live. It acquired the name because of its oval shape, which citizens of rugby-playing nations might see as resembling a rugby ball.

This very bright star cluster is easily seen with the naked eye from the southern hemisphere. It was discovered by French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille whilst observing from South Africa in 1752 and was catalogued three years later in 1755. It is one of the most spectacular open star clusters in the whole sky.

NGC 3532 covers an area of the sky that is almost twice the size of the full Moon. It was described as a binary-rich cluster by John Herschel who observed “several elegant double stars” here during his stay in southern Africa in the 1830s. Of additional, much more recent, historical relevance, NGC 3532 was the first target to be observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, on 20 May 1990.

This grouping of stars is about 300 million years old. This makes it middle-aged by open star cluster standards. The cluster stars that started off with moderate masses are still shining brightly with blue-white colours, but the more massive ones have already exhausted their supplies of hydrogen fuel and have become red giant stars. As a result the cluster appears rich in both blue and orange stars. The most massive stars in the original cluster will have already run through their brief but brilliant lives and exploded as supernovae long ago. There are also numerous less conspicuous fainter stars of lower mass that have longer lives and shine with yellow or red hues. NGC 3532 consists of around 400 stars in total.

The background sky here in a rich part of the Milky Way is very crowded with stars. Some glowing red gas is also apparent, as well as subtle lanes of dust that block the view of more distant stars. These are probably not connected to the cluster itself, which is old enough to have cleared away any material in its surroundings long ago.

This image of NGC 3532 was captured by the Wide Field Imager instrument at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in February 2013.

NGC 3532
Wide-field view of the sky around the bright star cluster NGC 3532
(C) ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2
This wide-field view of the sky around the cluster NGC 3532 was created from photographic material forming part of the Digitized Sky Survey 2. The cluster itself is at the centre of the picture and the bright star to its lower left is x Carinae — a very brilliant yellow hypergiant star that is about five times further from Earth than the cluster itself. This star is one of the most distant that can be seen with the naked eye.

NGC 3532
The location of the bright star cluster NGC 3532 in the constellation of Carina
(C) ESO/IAU and Sky & Telescope
This chart shows the constellation of Carina in the southern skies. Most of the stars visible to the naked eye on a clear night are shown. The bright open cluster, which can also be seen as a faint patch without optical aim, is marked.

Chasing Carina
Chasing Carina
(C) Dieter Willasch
A jewel of the southern sky, the Great Carina Nebula, aka NGC 3372, spans over 300 light-years. Near the upper right of this expansive skyscape, it is much larger than the more northerly Orion Nebula. In fact, the Carina Nebula is one of our galaxy's largest star-forming regions and home to young, extremely massive stars, including the still enigmatic variable Eta Carinae, a star with well over 100 times the mass of the Sun. Nebulae near the center of the 10 degree wide field include NGC 3576 and NGC 3603. Near center at the top of the frame is open star cluster NGC 3532, the Wishing Well Cluster. More compact, NGC 3766, the Pearl Cluster, can be spotted at the left. Anchoring the lower left of the cosmic canvas is another large star-forming region, IC 2948/2944 with embedded star cluster Collinder 249. That region is popularly known as the Running Chicken Nebula.

NGC 3532 (Wishing Well Cluster)
NGC 3532 (Wishing Well Cluster)
(C) ESO
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NGC 3532 (Wishing Well Cluster) : Movie

Zooming in on the colourful star cluster NGC 3532
This video starts with a view of the southern Milky Way and takes us on a journey towards the open star cluster NGC 3532. The MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile captured this richly colourful view. Some of the stars still shine with a hot bluish colour, but many of the more massive ones have become red giants and glow with a rich orange hue.

Panning across the colourful star cluster NGC 3532
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