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NGC 3603 (Open Cluster)


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NGC 3603
Open Cluster (散開星団)
OC I1pn

別名 (Other names)
OCL 854, ESO 129-SC16

明るさ (Brightness)
9.1等級

星座 (Constellation)
りゅうこつ座 (Car) (Carina)


距離 (Distance)
20,000光年 (20,000 light-years)

NGC 3603 is an open cluster located 20,000 light years from the Earth in the constellation Carina.

NGC 3603 (Open Cluster) : Picture

The Giant Nebula, NGC 3603
The Giant Nebula, NGC 3603
(C) NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage
Thousands of sparkling young stars nestled within the giant nebula NGC 3603. This stellar "jewel box" is one of the most massive young star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. NGC 3603 is a prominent star-forming region in the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way, about 20,000 light-years away. This image shows a young star cluster surrounded by a vast region of dust and gas. The image reveals stages in the life cycle of stars. The nebula was first discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1834. The image spans roughly 17 light-years.

NGC 3603 (Open Cluster)
NGC 3603 (Open Cluster)
(C) NASA/ESA
Like a July 4 fireworks display a young, glittering collection of stars looks like an aerial burst. The cluster is surrounded by clouds of interstellar gas and dust - the raw material for new star formation. The nebula, located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina, contains a central cluster of huge, hot stars, called NGC 3603.

This environment is not as peaceful as it looks. Ultraviolet radiation and violent stellar winds have blown out an enormous cavity in the gas and dust enveloping the cluster, providing an unobstructed view of the cluster.

Most of the stars in the cluster were born around the same time but differ in size, mass, temperature, and color. The course of a star's life is determined by its mass, so a cluster of a given age will contain stars in various stages of their lives, giving an opportunity for detailed analyses of stellar life cycles. NGC 3603 also contains some of the most massive stars known. These huge stars live fast and die young, burning through their hydrogen fuel quickly and ultimately ending their lives in supernova explosions.

Star clusters like NGC 3603 provide important clues to understanding the origin of massive star formation in the early, distant universe. Astronomers also use massive clusters to study distant starbursts that occur when galaxies collide, igniting a flurry of star formation. The proximity of NGC 3603 makes it an excellent lab for studying such distant and momentous events.

Stellar nursery NGC 3603
Stellar nursery NGC 3603
(C) ESO

NGC 3603: An Active Star Cluster
NGC 3603: An Active Star Cluster
(C) B. Brandl (Cornell) et al., ISAAC, VLT, ESO
NGC 3603 is home to a massive star cluster, thick dust pillars, and a star about to explode. The central open cluster contains about 2000 bright stars, each of which is much brighter and more massive than our Sun. Together, radiations from these stars are energizing and pushing away surrounding material, making NGC 3603 one of the most interesting HII regions known. NGC 3603 is about 20,000 light-years away, and the region shown is about 20 light-years across. Possibly most interesting about this recently released, representative-color picture are the large number of dim stars visible. These stars are less massive than our Sun, demonstrating that great numbers of low-mass stars also form in active starburst regions.

Hubble image of galactic nebula NGC 3603
Hubble image of galactic nebula NGC 3603
(C) NASA/ESA

Sher 25
Sher 25: A Pending Supernova?
(C) W. Brandner (UIUC), et al., ESO, 1.54-m Telescope, Chile
No supernova has ever been predicted. These dramatic stellar explosions that destroy stars and disperse elements that compose people and planets are not so well understood that astronomers can accurately predict when a star will explode - yet. Perhaps Sher 25 will be the first. Sher 25, designated by the arrow, is a blue supergiant star located just outside the star cluster and emission nebula NGC 3603. Sher 25 lies in the center of an hourglass shaped nebula much like the one that surrounds the last bright supernova visible from Earth: SN1987a. Now the hourglass shaped rings around SN1987a were emitted before that blue supergiant exploded. Maybe Sher 25 has expelled these bipolar rings in a step that closely precedes a supernova. If so, Sher 25 may be within a few thousand years of its spectacular finale.

The Giant Nebula, NGC 3603 NGC 3603 (Open Cluster)
The Giant Nebula, NGC 3603
(C) NASA/ESA
NGC 3603 (Open Cluster)
(C) NASA/ESA
NGC 3603: An Active Star Cluster Sher 25
NGC 3603: An Active Star Cluster
(C) ESO
Sher 25
(C) ESO
NGC 3603 NGC 3603
NGC 3603
(C) NASA/ESA
NGC 3603
(C) ESO
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NGC 3603 (Open Cluster) : Movie

Zooming in on NGC 3603
Zooming in on NGC 3603, the cosmic factory where stars form frantically from the nebula's extended clouds of gas and dust. Located 22,000 light-years away from the Sun, it is the closest region of this kind known in our galaxy, providing astronomers with a local test bed for studying intense star formation processes, very common in other galaxies, but hard to observe in detail because of their large distance. Credit: ESO/A. Fujii/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Music by John Dyson.
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