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Messier 71 (also known as M71 or NGC 6838) is a globular cluster in the constellation Sagitta. It was discovered by Philippe Loys de Chéseaux in 1745 and included by Charles Messier in his catalog of comet-like objects in 1780. It was also noted by Koehler at Dresden around 1775.

Messier 71
Messier 71 Hubble WikiSky.jpg
M71 from Hubble Space Telescope; 3.35′ view
Credit: NASA/STScI/WikiSky
Observation data (J2000 epoch)
Right ascension 19h 53m 46.49s[1]
Declination+18° 46′ 45.1″[1]
Distance13.0 kly (4.0 kpc)[2]
Apparent magnitude (V)+6.1[3]
Apparent dimensions (V)7′.2
Physical characteristics
Mass1.7×104[4] M
Radius13 ly[5]
Metallicity = –0.78[6] dex
Estimated age9-10 Gyr
Other designationsM71, NGC 6838, GCl 115[3]
See also: Globular cluster, List of globular clusters

The star cluster is at a distance of about 12,000 light years away from Earth and spans some 27 light years across. The irregular variable star Z Sagittae is a member of this cluster.

M71 was long thought (until the 1970s) to be a densely packed open cluster and was classified as such by leading astronomers in the field of star cluster research due to its lacking a dense central compression, and to its stars having more "metals" than is usual for an ancient globular cluster; furthermore, it lacks the RR Lyrae "cluster" variable stars that are common in most globulars. However, modern photometric photometry has detected a short "horizontal branch" in the H-R diagram of M71, which is characteristic of a globular cluster. The shortness of the branch explains the lacking of the RR Lyrae variables and is due to the globular's relatively young age of 9-10 billion years. The relative youth of this globular also explains the abundance of "metals" in its stars[citation needed]. Hence today M71 is designated as a very loosely concentrated globular cluster, much like M68 in Hydra. M71 has a luminosity of around 13,200 Suns.

Map showing location of M71


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Hessels, J. W. T.; et al. (November 2007), "A 1.4 GHz Arecibo Survey for Pulsars in Globular Clusters", The Astrophysical Journal, 670 (1): 363–378, arXiv:0707.1602, Bibcode:2007ApJ...670..363H, doi:10.1086/521780.
  3. ^ a b "M 71". SIMBAD. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved 2006-11-17.
  4. ^ Marks, Michael; Kroupa, Pavel (August 2010), "Initial conditions for globular clusters and assembly of the old globular cluster population of the Milky Way", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 406 (3): 2000–2012, arXiv:1004.2255, Bibcode:2010MNRAS.406.2000M, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16813.x. Mass is from MPD on Table 1.
  5. ^ distance × sin( diameter_angle / 2 ) = 13 ly. radius
  6. ^ Boyles, J.; et al. (November 2011), "Young Radio Pulsars in Galactic Globular Clusters", The Astrophysical Journal, 742 (1): 51, arXiv:1108.4402, Bibcode:2011ApJ...742...51B, doi:10.1088/0004-637X/742/1/51.

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