Liller 1 is only 30,000 light-years from Earth — making it a relatively close “neighbor” in astronomy. But it’s in the “bulge” of the Milky Way, the dense dusty region at the center of our galaxy. Because of this, Liller 1 is heavily obscured by interstellar dust, which scatters visible light (especially blue light) very efficiently. Fortunately, some infrared and red visible light can pass through these dusty regions. Hubble’s WFC3 is sensitive to both visible and near-infrared (infrared near-visible) wavelengths, allowing the Hubble team to “see through” obscuring dust clouds and provide this stunning view of Liller 1.
Liller 1 is a particularly interesting globular cluster because, unlike most clusters of its kind, it contains very young and very old stars. Globular clusters usually contain only ancient stars, some as old as the universe itself. And Liller 1 contains at least two distinct groups of stars with significantly different ages: the oldest stars are 12 billion years old, while the youngest are only 1 billion to 2 billion years old. This led astronomers to conclude that the star system was able to form stars over a particularly long period of time.