Pretty Picture of the Week: NGC 3603

This magnificent image of the giant stellar nursery surrounding NGC 3603 was taken by the Very Large Telescope at Cerro Paranal, Chile. This nebula is a starburst region, a huge star-making factory where stars form frantically from the nebula’s billowing clouds of gas and dust. It is located 22,000 light-years away from the Sun, and is the closest region of this kind known in our galaxy. Thousands of stars inhabit this region, with most having masses similar to that of our sun. But other stars are some of the most spectacular and massive stars around. In fact, one star, NGC 3603 A1, is the most massive star ever “weighed.” Several blue supergiant stars crowd into a volume of less than a cubic light-year, along with three so-called Wolf-Rayet stars — extremely bright and massive stars that will do the supernova gig relatively soon. The Bad Astronomer tells it way better than I, so go check out his gigantisized blog post.

Source: ESO

2 Replies to “Pretty Picture of the Week: NGC 3603”

  1. Nancy,

    Beautiful image, thanks! It’ll be wonderful when we start discovering exoplanets in these systems. On another note, are you discontinuing the ‘Where in the Universe” articles for 2010? Although I didn’t always venture a guess, I very much enjoyed this feature each week. Just wondering…..

  2. @William928

    The ‘Where in the Universe’ is still on, last week my guess was IO/Cassini, though I don’t know the answer yet…


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