Messier 80

Hubble’s ultraviolet observations of this globular cluster helped astronomers identify the remains of a nova-producing white dwarf.

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Distance

28,000 light-years

Apparent Magnitude

7.9

constellation

Scorpius

object type

Globular Cluster

Image center holds a dense sphere of stars in colors of red, orange, yellow, white, and blue. The stars are densely packed at image center and taper out toward the image's edges. They are on a black background.
In this image of M80, observations in ultraviolet, visible, and infrared wavelengths of light are featured. This data helped scientists learn more about the sequence of cosmic events that lead to the formation of various sub-populations of stars in globular clusters like this one.
NASA, ESA, and G. Piotto (Universita degli Studi di Padova); Image Processing: Gladys Kober

This stellar swarm is M80, one of the densest of the approximately 150 known globular clusters in the Milky Way galaxy. Located about 28,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Scorpius, the cluster contains hundreds of thousands of stars that are held together by their mutual gravitational attraction. M80 has an apparent magnitude of 7.9 and was discovered by Charles Messier in 1781. It can be spotted with a small telescope most easily during July.

M80
The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI/NASA)

M80 is notable for being the site of a nova in the year 1860. Nova outbursts can occur when a close companion star transfers fresh hydrogen fuel to a burned-out white dwarf. Eventually the hydrogen ignites a thermonuclear explosion on the surface of the white dwarf, giving rise to the nova outburst. Hubble’s ultraviolet observations of M80 helped astronomers identify the hot, faint remnant of the nova-producing white dwarf.

Hubble’s examination of M80’s core has also revealed a large population of blue stragglers – stars that appear to be unusually young and more massive than the other stars in a globular cluster. M80 contains more than twice as many of these unusual stars than any other globular cluster surveyed by Hubble.

For more information about Hubble’s observations of M80, see:

locator star chart for M80
This star chart for M80 represents the view from mid-northern latitudes for the given month and time.
Image courtesy of Stellarium

Explore Hubble's Messier Catalog

The following pages contain some of Hubble’s best images of Messier objects.

Messier 1 (The Crab Nebula)

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Messier 2

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Messier 3

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