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Physics & Astronomy Department

Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2004

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M 52, Bryan Wuest

M 52

M 52, or NGC 7654, is an open star cluster located in the constellation Cassiopeia. This cluster was discovered on September 7, 1774, at position 23220n6120. This cluster was once speculated to contain about two hundred stars; this number now has been confirmed to 193 members. The diameter of this cluster is 10 – 15 light years. Descriptions of this cluster have varied: some called it “large, rich, round, and much compressed,” while others described it as “irregular and of a somewhat triangular form with an orange-tinted eighth magnitude star at the vertex….” (Burnham 520) Current studies, however, describe this cluster as a dense one, with a more than three stars per cubic parsec density. This cluster is also relatively young, with an age similar to the Pleiades.

I looked at some pictures of this cluster on the internet. Some showed this cluster as being mostly white; others showed it to have a bluish tint. I would assume that most of the stars in this cluster are of comparable age, for most of the stars are quite similar. Near the middle, slightly to the right, there is a star with a line through it, meaning it was overexposed during the photography process. This means that the star is brighter than the rest, and it follows that it is hotter as well. Another star that exhibits such properties is located in the top right corner of the picture. This cluster also follows the usual pattern of an open cluster of a higher density of stars near the center, and a lower density near the edges.