Stare into the unblinking eye of the cosmos as thousands of white dwarf stars stage a mass exodus from their ancient home. NASA's and the ESA's Hubble Space Telescope captured this inspiring image of a magnificent migration of stars expanding out from the Milky Way's 10-billion-year-old globular star cluster 47 Tucanae.
This is the first time this phenomenon has been observed, and it displays the mesmerizing methods of our beautiful universe a mere 16,700 light-years away in the southern constellation Tucana. Have a look.
Here's NASA's official explanation:
White dwarfs are the burned-out relics of stars that rapidly lose mass, cool down and shut off their nuclear furnaces. As these glowing carcasses age and shed weight, their orbits begin to expand outward from the star cluster’s packed downtown. This migration is caused by a gravitational tussle among stars inside the cluster. Globular star clusters sort out stars according to their mass, governed by a gravitational billiard ball game where lower mass stars rob momentum from more massive stars. The result is that heavier stars slow down and sink to the cluster’s core, while lighter stars pick up speed and move across the cluster to the edge. This process is known as “mass segregation.” Until these Hubble observations, astronomers had never definitively seen the dynamical conveyor belt in action.