The European Southern Observatory (ESO)’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has captured amazing pictures of two regions of star formation. ESO released the photos of NGC 3576 nebula and NGC 3603 star cluster today (August 20). Though the two star formation regions are about 9,000 light years apart, they glow with similar brightness in the images taken by La Silla.
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The star-forming regions located in the Carina-Sagittarius arm of Milky Way
The nebula NGC 3576 can be seen on the right side of the photo. It is about 11,000 light years away from our planet. The NGC 3603 star cluster is about 20,000 light years away from the Earth. They both are located in the Carina-Sagittarius arm of Milky Way. ESO said in a statement that NGC 3603 is a very bright star cluster. It has the highest concentration of massive stars ever discovered in our galaxy.
At the center of NGC 3603 is a Wolf-Rayet multiple star system called HD 97950. Wolf-Rayet stars are in the advanced stage of evolution. They start off about 20 times the mass of the sun. Despite being huge, they are bombarded with stellar winds. According to ESO, the stellar winds carry particles from the star’s surface into the outer space at the speed of millions of miles per hour.
NGC 3603 is an active star formation region
Researchers said the NGC 3603 is a region of very active star formation. The images reveal clouds, known as HII regions, shining in the light of young stars formed within the cluster. HII regions could be hundreds of light years in diameter. They shine because of the interaction of UV radiation emitted by young stars with hydrogen gas clouds.
The NGC 3576 nebula is also a star forming region. Stellar wind from the hot young stars within the nebula have shaped the dust and gas into two objects that appear like ram horns. These curly “horns” stretch more than 100 light years. You can see them on the right side of the picture. The NGC 3576 nebula also hosts two Bok globules that look like dark clouds.