[ESO press release]
How to Steal a Million Stars?
VLT Study Reveals Troubled Past of Globular Cluster Messier 12
Based on observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope, a team of Italian astronomers reports that the stellar cluster Messier 12 must have lost to our Milky Way galaxy close to one million low-mass stars.
“In the solar neighbourhood and in most stellar clusters, the least massive stars are the most common, and by far“, said Guido De Marchi (ESA), lead author of the study. “Our observations with ESO’s VLT show this is not the case for Messier 12.”
The team, which also includes Luigi Pulone and Francesco Paresce (INAF, Italy), measured the brightness and colours of more than 16,000 stars within the globular cluster Messier 12 with the FORS1 multi-mode instrument attached to one of the Unit Telescopes of ESO’s VLT at Cerro Paranal (Chile). The astronomers could study stars that are 40 million times fainter than what the unaided eye can see (magnitude 25).