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No. 66: Nov-Dec 1989

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Globular Clusters Upset Theory Of Galaxy Formation

Spherical cloud of globular clusters
A spherical cloud of globular clusters surrounds the Milky Way galaxy. Each cluster is itself a spherical groups of stars.
Through the telescope, globular clusters are beautiful spherical aggregations of bright stars that seem to get ever denser toward the cluster's center. Globular clusters harbor many anomalies (AOB4 and AOB17 in Stars, Galaxies, Cosmos); here, we mention two involving spatial distribution and age.

Many spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way, spin ponderously in the center of a spherical cloud of scores, even hundreds, of globular clusters (see sketch). Not only do the globular clusters surrounding us display a different spatial distribution (spherical rather than flat-spiral), but their individual ages undercut galaxy theory. All of the Milky Way's globular clusters were supposed to have been formed when our galaxy was created. Yet, the ages of these clusters vary by as much as 5 billion years.

(Dayton, Leigh; "Globular Clusters Upset Theory of Galaxy," New Scientist, p. 34, May 13, 1989.)

Comment. We cannot resist mentioning still another cluster anomaly: The globular clusters do not participate in the galaxy's general rotation. Where did these oddballs come from?

Reference. The catalog volume: Stars, Galaxies, Cosmos, mentioned above, is described here.

From Science Frontiers #66, NOV-DEC 1989. � 1989-2000 William R. Corliss