Coordinates: Sky map 16h 41m 41.44s, 36° 27′ 36.9″

Messier 13

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Messier 13
Messier 13.jpg
Globular cluster Messier 13 in Hercules
Observation data (J2000 epoch)
Right ascension16h 41m 41.24s[2]
Declination+36° 27′ 35.5″[2]
Distance22.2 kly (6.8 kpc)[3]
Apparent magnitude (V)5.8[4]
Apparent dimensions (V)20 arcminutes
Physical characteristics
Absolute magnitude-8.5
Mass6×105[5] M
Radius84 ly[6]
Metallicity = –1.33[7] dex
Estimated age11.65 Gyr[7]
Notable featuresOne of the best-known clusters of the Northern Hemisphere
Other designationsNGC 6205[4]
See also: Globular cluster, List of globular clusters

Messier 13 or M13, also designated NGC 6205 and sometimes called the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules or the Hercules Globular Cluster, is a globular cluster of several hundred thousand stars in the constellation of Hercules.

Discovery and visibility[edit]

M13 was discovered by Edmond Halley in 1714, and cataloged by Charles Messier on June 1, 1764, into his list of objects not to mistake for comets; Messier's list, including Messier 13, eventually became known as the Messier Catalog.[8]

About one third of the way from Vega to Arcturus, four bright stars in Herculēs form the Keystone asterism, the broad torso of the hero. M13 can be seen in this asterism 23 of the way north (by west) from Zeta to Eta Herculis. Although only telescopes with great light-gathering capability fully resolve the stars of the cluster, M13 may be visible to the naked eye depending on circumstances. With a low-power telescope, Messier 13 looks like a comet or fuzzy patch. The cluster is visible throughout the year from latitudes greater than 36 degrees north, with the longest visibility during Northern Hemisphere spring and summer.[9]

It is located at right ascension 16h 41.7m, declination +36° 28'. With an apparent magnitude of 5.8, it is barely visible with the naked eye on clear nights. Its diameter is about 23 arcminutes and it is readily viewable in small telescopes.[10] Nearby is NGC 6207, a 12th-magnitude edge-on galaxy that lies 28 arcminutes directly northeast. A small galaxy, IC 4617, lies halfway between NGC 6207 and M13, north-northeast of the large globular cluster's center.

In traditional binoculars, the Hercules Globular Cluster appears as a round patch of light. At least four inches of telescope aperture resolves stars in M13's outer extent as small pinpoints of light. However, only larger telescopes resolve stars further into the center of the cluster.[11]


About 145 light-years in diameter, M13 is composed of several hundred thousand stars, the brightest of which is a red giant, the variable star V11, also known as V1554 Herculis,[12] with an apparent visual magnitude of 11.95. M13 is 22,200–25,000 light-years away from Earth,[13] and the globular cluster is one of over one hundred that orbit the center of the Milky Way.[14][15]

Single stars in this globular cluster were first resolved in 1779.[13] Compared to the stars in the neighborhood of the Sun, the stars of the M13 population are more than a hundred times more densely packed.[13] They are so close together that they sometimes collide and produce new stars.[13] The newly formed, young stars, so-called "blue stragglers", are particularly interesting to astronomers.[13]

The 1974 Arecibo message, which contained encoded information about the human race, DNA, atomic numbers, Earth's position and other information, was beamed from the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope towards M13 as an experiment in contacting potential extraterrestrial civilizations in the cluster. The cluster will move through space during the transit time; opinions differ as to whether or not the cluster will be in a position to receive the message by the time that it arrives.[16][17]

The last two variables (V63 and V64) were discovered from Spain in April 2021 and March 2022 respectively.

Literary references[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shapley, Harlow; Sawyer, Helen B. (August 1927), "A Classification of Globular Clusters", Harvard College Observatory Bulletin, 849 (849): 11–14, Bibcode:1927BHarO.849...11S.
  2. ^ a b Goldsbury, Ryan; et al. (December 2010), "The ACS Survey of Galactic Globular Clusters. X. New Determinations of Centers for 65 Clusters", The Astronomical Journal, 140 (6): 1830–1837, arXiv:1008.2755, Bibcode:2010AJ....140.1830G, doi:10.1088/0004-6256/140/6/1830.
  3. ^ Paust, Nathaniel E. Q.; et al. (February 2010), "The ACS Survey of Galactic Globular Clusters. VIII. Effects of Environment on Globular Cluster Global Mass Functions", The Astronomical Journal, 139 (2): 476–491, Bibcode:2010AJ....139..476P, doi:10.1088/0004-6256/139/2/476, hdl:2152/34371.
  4. ^ a b "M 13". SIMBAD. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved 2006-11-15.
  5. ^ Leonard, Peter J. T.; Richer, Harvey B.; Fahlman, Gregory G. (1992), "The mass and stellar content of the globular cluster M13", Astronomical Journal, 104: 2104, Bibcode:1992AJ....104.2104L, doi:10.1086/116386.
  6. ^ distance × sin(diameter_angle / 2) = 84 ly radius
  7. ^ a b Forbes, Duncan A.; Bridges, Terry (May 2010), "Accreted versus in situ Milky Way globular clusters", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 404 (3): 1203–1214, arXiv:1001.4289, Bibcode:2010MNRAS.404.1203F, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16373.x.
  8. ^ "Messier 13 (M13) - The Great Hercules Cluster - Universe Today". Universe Today. 2016-05-09. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  9. ^ "M13: Great Cluster in Hercules |". Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  10. ^ "M 13". Messier Objects Mobile -- Charts, Maps & Photos. 2016-10-16. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  11. ^ "How to See the Great Hercules Cluster of Stars". Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  12. ^ Samus, N.N.; Pastukhova, E.N.; Durlevich, O.V.; Kazarovets, E.V.; Kireeva, N.N. (2020), "The 83rd Name-List of Variable Stars. Variables in Globular Clusters and Novae", Peremennye Zvezdy (Variable Stars) 40, No. 8
  13. ^ a b c d e Garner, Rob (2017-10-06). "Messier 13 (The Hercules Cluster)". NASA. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  14. ^ "Control Telescope :: Stars & Nebulae". Retrieved 2021-11-22.
  15. ^ "Star Cluster". Retrieved 2021-11-22.
  16. ^ "It's the 25th anniversary of Earth's first attempt to phone E.T." 1999-11-12. Archived from the original on 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  17. ^ "Science 2.0". In regard to the email from. Retrieved 2015-04-15.

External links[edit]