Wild Duck Cluster

Coordinates: Sky map 18h 51.1m 00s, −06° 16′ 00″
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Wild Duck Cluster
Open cluster Messier 11 in Scutum
Observation data (J2000.0 epoch)
Right ascension18h 51m 05.0s[1]
Declination−06° 16′ 12″[1]
Distance6,120 light-years (1,877 pc)[2]
Apparent magnitude (V)5.8[3]
Apparent dimensions (V)22.8[2]
Physical characteristics
Mass11,000[4] M
Radius95 ly[4]
Estimated age316±50 million years[5]
Other designationsMessier 11, NGC 6705, Cr 391, Mel 213, OCl 76.0[6]
See also: Open cluster, List of open clusters

The Wild Duck Cluster (also known as Messier 11, or NGC 6705) is an open cluster of stars in the constellation Scutum (the Shield). It was discovered by Gottfried Kirch in 1681.[3] Charles Messier included it in his catalogue of diffuse objects in 1764. Its popular name derives from the brighter stars forming a triangle which could resemble a flying flock of ducks[3] (or, from other angles, one swimming duck). The cluster is located just to the east of the Scutum Star Cloud midpoint.[7]

The Wild Duck Cluster is one of the richest and most compact of the known open clusters. It is one of the most massive open clusters known, and it has been extensively studied. Its age has been estimated to about 316 million years.[5] The core radius is 1.23 pc (4.0 ly) while the tidal radius is 29 pc (95 ly). Estimates for the cluster's mass range from 3,700 M[8] to 11,000 M,[4] depending on the method chosen. The brightest cluster member is visual magnitude 8, and it has 870 members of at least magnitude 16.5. It has an integrated absolute magnitude of –6.5, and a visual extinction of 1.3.[7]

The cluster is metal-rich with an iron abundance of [Fe/H] = 0.17±0.04. Despite its youth, it shows an enhancement of alpha process elements. Possibly this is due to an enhancement of its birth molecular cloud by a nearby Type II supernova explosion.[5] At least nine variable star members have been identified with high probability, plus 29 lower probability members. The former include two eclipsing binary star systems.[9] The cluster is located 6.8 kpc (22,000 ly) from the Galactic Center, close to the galactic plane, and is not far from its birthplace.[5]


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  1. ^ a b Wu, Zhen-Yu; et al. (November 2009), "The orbits of open clusters in the Galaxy", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 399 (4): 2146–2164, arXiv:0909.3737, Bibcode:2009MNRAS.399.2146W, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.15416.x, S2CID 6066790.
  2. ^ a b Kharchenko, N. V.; et al. (2005), "Astrophysical parameters of Galactic open clusters", Astronomy and Astrophysics, 438 (3): 1163–1173, arXiv:astro-ph/0501674, Bibcode:2005A&A...438.1163K, doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20042523, S2CID 9079873.
  3. ^ a b c O'Meara, Stephen James; Levy, David H. (1998), Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects, Cambridge University Press, p. 65, ISBN 978-0521553322.
  4. ^ a b c Santos, J. F. C. Jr.; et al. (October 2005), "Structure and stellar content analysis of the open cluster M 11 with 2MASS photometry", Astronomy and Astrophysics, 442 (1): 201–209, arXiv:astro-ph/0507216, Bibcode:2005A&A...442..201S, doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20053378, S2CID 15323948.
  5. ^ a b c d Casamiquela, L.; et al. (March 2018), "NGC 6705 a young α-enhanced open cluster from OCCASO data", Astronomy & Astrophysics, 610: 10, arXiv:1710.11069, Bibcode:2018A&A...610A..66C, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201732024, S2CID 59397264, A66.
  6. ^ "M 11". SIMBAD. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Crossen, Craig; Rhemann, Gerald (2012), Sky Vistas: Astronomy for Binoculars and Richest-Field Telescopes, Springer Science & Business Media, p. 56, ISBN 978-3709106266.
  8. ^ Cantat-Gaudin, T.; et al. (September 2014), "The Gaia-ESO Survey: Stellar content and elemental abundances in the massive cluster NGC 6705", Astronomy & Astrophysics, 569: 18, arXiv:1407.1510, Bibcode:2014A&A...569A..17C, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201423851, S2CID 5111744, A17.
  9. ^ Messina, S.; et al. (April 2010), "ACE-OC project: rotation and variability in the open cluster M 11 (NGC 6705)", Astronomy and Astrophysics, 513: 26, arXiv:0912.4131, Bibcode:2010A&A...513A..29M, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/200912373, S2CID 119249067, A29.
  10. ^ "Wild cosmic ducks". spacetelescope.org. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Wild Ducks Take Flight in Open Cluster". eso.org. European Southern Observatory. Retrieved 3 October 2014.

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