C66 (NGC 5694)

Caldwell 66 is one of the oldest, most remote globular clusters in our galaxy. Most globular clusters reside on the outskirts of a galaxy and are gravitationally bound to their galaxy. This means that the clusters will remain in orbit around the galaxy’s gravitational center. However, astronomers suspect that C66 is traveling on an unbound, hyperbolic (or U-shaped) path around our Milky Way galaxy. The cluster is located far enough away from the galactic center that it is only loosely bound by gravity, and it is traveling through space so quickly that it will likely escape from our galaxy’s gravitational grip.

Credits: NASA, ESA, G. Fahlman (Dominion Astrophysical Observatory), R. Ibata (Université de Strasbourg), and F. Ferraro (Università di Bologna); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)