The reddened nebulosity in NGC 3603
AAO image reference AAT 40.    « Previous || Next »

The reddened nebulosity in NGC 3603, ngc3603.jpg
Top left is NE. Image width is about 13 arc min
Image and text © 1984-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.

Although stars are well known to form in clusters, most of the stars in the young groups we know of in our own galaxy are well separated in space. In NGC 3603 the stars are remarkably close together. Moreover, many of the stars in this compact constellation are Wolf-Rayet stars, extremely hot, massive objects, rarely found in such profusion in clusters. Exactly why some clusters form massive stars and others do not is a hot topic in astronomy, so this cluster and its environment has been extensively studied.

This curious collection of young objects in Carina is, as far as we know, unique in our galaxy, though the enigmatic object at the centre of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud is now known to be a similar compact cluster. The stars and their associated nebula are seen through considerable dust along the line of sight, and are dimmed and reddened by it.

Related Images
AAT 38.    NGC 3576 and NGC 3603
AAT 38a.  NGC 3576 and NGC 3603 (wide field)
AAT 39.    The loops of NGC 3576
Constellation of Carina (external site)

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1