Astronomers first studied in detail the structure of the globular cluster of stars using the lenticular galaxy NGC 4546 as an example. A study conducted by scientists from La Plata National University using the Gemini-South telescope is published on arXiv.org.
Globular clusters are collections of closely related stars orbiting galaxies. Astronomers perceive them as natural laboratories that allow them to study the evolution of stars and galaxies. In particular, globular clusters can help researchers better understand the history of formation and evolution of early-type galaxies, since their origin appears to be closely related to periods of intense star formation.
NGC 4546, located at a distance of about 45.6 million light years from Earth, is a lenticular (S0) galaxy with a stellar mass of about 27 billion solar masses. According to a 2015 study, the total number of objects in the cluster is about 120. All of them are located at a distance of 163 thousand light years from each other.
To better study the cluster, the researchers conducted photometric observations with a GMOS camera mounted on a Gemini-South telescope in Chile.
Observations have shown that in NGC 4546 there are actually about 390 objects. In addition, the researchers found vast irregular areas of dust extending approximately 19.5 light-years along the semi-major axis of NGC 4546. According to the authors of the article, this indicates mergers or interactions in the recent past with an object of less mass than NGC 4546.