Messier 7

Coordinates: Sky map 17h 53.9m 00s, −34° 49′ 00″
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Messier 7
The star cluster Messier 7.jpg
Observation data (J2000.0 epoch)
Right ascension17h 53m 51.2s[1]
Declination−34° 47′ 34″[1]
Distance980 ± 33 ly (300 ± 10 pc)[2]
Apparent magnitude (V)3.3
Apparent dimensions (V)80.0
Physical characteristics
Mass735[3] M
Radius25 ly
Estimated age200 Myr[2]
Other designationsPtolemy Cluster, M7, NGC 6475, Cr 354
See also: Open cluster, List of open clusters

Messier 7 or M7, also designated NGC 6475 and sometimes known as the Ptolemy Cluster,[4] is an open cluster of stars in the constellation of Scorpius. The cluster is easily detectable with the naked eye, close to the "stinger" of Scorpius. With a declination of −34.8°, it is the southernmost Messier object.

M7 has been known since antiquity; it was first recorded by the 2nd-century Greek-Roman astronomer Ptolemy, who described it as a nebula in 130 AD.[5] Italian astronomer Giovanni Batista Hodierna observed it before 1654 and counted 30 stars in it. In 1764, French astronomer Charles Messier catalogued the cluster as the seventh member in his list of comet-like objects. English astronomer John Herschel described it as "coarsely scattered clusters of stars".[4]

Telescopic observations of the cluster reveal about 80 stars within a field of view of 1.3° across. At the cluster's estimated distance of 980 light years this corresponds to an actual diameter of 25 light years. The tidal radius of the cluster is 40.1 ly (12.3 pc) and it has a combined mass of about 735 times the mass of the Sun.[3] The age of the cluster is around 200[2] million years while the brightest member star is of magnitude 5.6. In terms of composition, the cluster contains a similar abundance of elements other than hydrogen and helium as the Sun.[2]

On August 29, 2006, Messier 7 was used for first light image of the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) telescope on the Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft.[6]

As of January 2022, Messier 7 is one of the few remaining Messier objects not photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope.[7] This is mainly due to those objects' angular diameter or lack of scientific significance. Most such objects are open clusters of large angular diameter that would require thousands of photos due to Hubble's small field of view. (For comparison, Hubble's well known panoramic photo of the Andromeda Galaxy, covering less than half of our galactic neighbor, required approximately 400 individual movements and 7400 exposures.)[8]


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  1. ^ a b "MESSIER 007", NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database, NASA, retrieved 2012-04-19
  2. ^ a b c d Villanova, S.; Carraro, G.; Saviane, I. (September 2009), "A spectroscopic study of the open cluster NGC 6475 (M 7). Chemical abundances from stars in the range Teff = 4500-10 000 K", Astronomy and Astrophysics, 504 (3): 845–852, arXiv:0906.4330, Bibcode:2009A&A...504..845V, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/200811507, S2CID 17534818
  3. ^ a b Piskunov, A. E.; et al. (January 2008), "Tidal radii and masses of open clusters", Astronomy and Astrophysics, 477 (1): 165–172, Bibcode:2008A&A...477..165P, doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078525
  4. ^ a b Gendler, Robert; Christensen, Lars Lindberg; Malin, David (2011), Treasures of the Southern Sky: A Photographic Anthology, Springer, p. 139, ISBN 978-1461406273
  5. ^ Jones, Kenneth Glyn (1991), Messier's Nebulae and Star Clusters, The Practical astronomy handbook series (2ns ed.), Cambridge University Press, p. 1, ISBN 978-0521370790
  6. ^ "LORRI's First Light1". Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  7. ^ "Explore - the Night Sky | Hubble's Messier Catalog". 28 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Hubble's High-Definition Panoramic View of the Andromeda Galaxy". 24 March 2015.

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