Image of the Day: Monster Stars of the Universe

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A young, glittering collection of stars surrounded by clouds of interstellar gas and dust—the raw material for new star formation. This nebula, located 20,000 light years away, in the constellation Carina, contains a central cluster of huge, hot stars called NGC 3603. 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. NGC 3603 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. This image was captured in August, 2009, and December, 2009, with the Wide Field Camera 3 in both visible and infrared light, which trace the glow of sulfur, hydrogen, and iron.

Credit: NASA, ESA, R. O’Connell (University of Virginia), F. Paresce (National Institute for Astrophysics, Bologna, Italy), E. Young (Universities Space Research Association/Ames Research Center), the WFC3 Science Oversight Committee, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).

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