Astronomers Capture Spectacular NGC 3576, NGC 3603

Aug 20, 2014 by Sci-News.com

A group of astronomers using the Wide Field Imager at ESO’s La Silla Observatory has captured an image of two intriguing and beautiful star formation regions in our Milky Way Galaxy known as NGC 3603 and NGC 3576.

This image shows two star formation regions in the southern Milky Way: the first of these, on the left, is dominated by the star cluster NGC 3603; the second object, on the right, is NGC 3576. Image credit: ESO / G. Beccari.

This image shows two star formation regions in the southern Milky Way: the first of these, on the left, is dominated by the star cluster NGC 3603; the second object, on the right, is NGC 3576. Image credit: ESO / G. Beccari.

NGC 3576, also known as the Statue of Liberty Nebula and ESO 129-EN5, was discovered by John Herschel in 1834.

It drifts through the Sagittarius arm of our Milky Way Galaxy, about 9,000 light-years away.

Within the region, episodes of star formation are thought to contribute to the complex and suggestive shapes.

Strong stellar winds from the NGC 3576′s embedded young, massive stars shape two huge filaments resembling the curled horns of a ram.

Also discovered by John Herschel in 1834, NGC 3603 is a glowing cloud of gas, dust, and stars some 20,000 light years distant toward the constellation Carina.

At the NGC 3603’s center lies a Wolf–Rayet multiple star system, known as HD 97950.

NGC 3603 is in an area of very active star formation. Stars are born in dark and dusty regions of space, largely hidden from view.

But as the young stars start to shine and clear away their surrounding cocoons of material they become visible and create glowing clouds in the surrounding material, known as HII regions.

HII regions shine because of the interaction of UV radiation given off by the hot young stars with gas clouds of hydrogen.

These regions can measure several hundred light-years in diameter, and the one surrounding NGC 3603 has the distinction of being the most massive in the Milky Way Galaxy.

The new image from the La Silla Observatory shows NGC 3603 and NGC 3576 in remarkable detail. NGC 3576 is on the right of the image, while NGC 3603 is on the left.