From ESA Hubble, Too Good to Miss: “Merging clusters in 30 Doradus”


This is a Hubble Space Telescope image of a pair of star clusters that are believed to be in the early stages of merging. The clusters lie in the gigantic 30 Doradus Nebula [also known as Tarantula Nebula], which is 170,000 light-years from Earth

Credits: NASA, ESA, and E. Sabbi (ESA/STScI) Acknowledgment: R. O’Connell (University of Virginia) and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee

Hubble’s circumstantial evidence for the impending collision comes from seeing an elongated structure in the cluster at upper left, and from measuring a different age between the two clusters. Also, the unusually large number of high-velocity stars around 30 Doradus can finally be explained if a small cluster has merged into the big cluster R136 in the centre of the Tarantula Nebula.

This nearby example of cluster interaction yields insights into how star clusters may have formed in the early Universe.

The Hubble observations, made with the Wide Field Camera 3, were taken 20-27 October, 2009. The blue colour is light from the hottest, most massive stars; the green from the glow of oxygen; and the red from fluorescing hydrogen.

The complete article is here.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international co-operation between NASA and the European Space Agency.

The main scientific office for Hubble is located at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA, though the telescope is used by scientists around the world. The education and public outreach office for ESA’s share of the Hubble Space Telescope (known as ESA/Hubble), which runs the website, is located at the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany.

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