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NGC 5286

A globular cluster in the eastern parts of Centaurus, lying on an imaginary line between the stars Birdun and Alnair (or Epsilon and Zeta Centauri). As seen from Earth, it lies on an almost direct line with the fifth-magnitude yellow star M Centauri, so that images of the cluster show that star shining brightly in the foreground. The cluster is immensely more distant than M Centauri, and is actually more than four hundred times farther from the Solar System.

This globular cluster is not in fact perfectly 'globular', but has a slight but distinct elliptical profile. C84 orbits the Galaxy as part of its halo, the collection of objects and material that extends out into space from the spiral form of the Galaxy itself.

C84 belongs to a group of bodies collectively known as the 'Galactic Sausage', a group of objects associated with an ancient accretion event in which a dwarf galaxy (known as the 'Sausage Galaxy') was absorbed by and integrated into the Milky Way. This Galactic Sausage contains several other important clusters, including the Messier clusters M2, M56, M75 and M79, as well as NGC 2808, which is thought to potentially represent the core of the original Sausage Galaxy.


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