A small, bizarre cluster of a million young stars, enshrouded in thick gas and dust in a nearby dwarf galaxy, has been confirmed by Jean Turner, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy, and her colleagues, in the June 5 issue of the journal Nature.
Pseudo-color image of dwarf galaxy NGC 5253.
Blue: adapted from Hubble Space Telescope optical image; red: infrared image from the Keck Telescope. The supernebula/embedded million-star young cluster is the brightest infrared source, visible to the upper right of the central bright optical star cluster. Courtesy: D. Calzetti, Space Telescope Science
Infrared picture of the starburst and forming super star clusters in the
dwarf galaxy NGC 5253. The "supernebula"/embedded million-star cluster is the brightest infrared source, near the center of the plot. Courtesy: UCLA Astronomy.
Turner and her colleagues estimate that the stars are still in the process of forming, and are less than a million years old — extremely young by astronomical standards.
The cluster contains more than 4,000 massive “O” stars, each a million times brighter than our sun, with more than 30 times the mass of our sun. “O” stars blow off violent winds, and are the most luminous of all known stars. These “O” stars will become supernovae and explode at the end of their lives, but none has done so yet.
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