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More clusters in sight

Astronomers have announced the discovery of 493 additional star clusters in the central – or “bulge” – region of the Milky Way.  The region’s secrets are concealed behind thick clouds of gas and dust, but can be descried with cameras sensitive to infrared light.  The infrared camera of the VISTA telescope at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) on Cerro Paranal, a mountain in Chile, has been mapping unknown structures in the bulge of the Milky Way since 2010 (see Pesquisa FAPESP Issue nº 200).  “The discoveries of VISTA have more than doubled the number of known clusters in this region,” says Brazilian astrophysicist Roberto Saito from the Federal University of Sergipe (UFSE), who participated in the study published in Astronomy & Astrophysics in September 2015.  “We now know that there are more than a thousand clusters out there.”