photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Rolf Olsen | all galleries >> Astrophotography >> Nebulae > Super star cluster R136 - The Heart of the Tarantula
previous | next

Super star cluster R136 - The Heart of the Tarantula

This image is a close up of the very core of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
With this image I have tried to present a decent view of the central region of the nebula while still resolving the extremely dense central cluster R136 as much as possible.

Image details:

Data taken 06/11 + 08/11 2010
10" Newtonian f/5, Philips ToUCam Pro SC1
Luminosity: 32x30.5s + 180x16s + 400x0.9s
Colour: 39x15.5s with IR blocking fliter

R136 is a super star cluster which is a very large region of star formation thought to be the precursor of a globular cluster. It is a very young at only 1-2 million years and consists of giant and supergiant stars of which the majority are of spectral type O3. The cluster also contains several Wolf-Rayet stars.

Speculation long sorrounded the nature of the central component of the cluster, named separately as R136a, and it was once thought to be a single hypergiant star of an incredible 1500 solar masses. R136a's true nature was recently resolved by holographic speckle interferometry and found to be a dense star cluster containing very massive and luminous stars. Three extremely luminous stars (R136a1, R136a2 and R136a3) dominate this cluster and are separated by only 0.10 and 0.48 arc seconds. R136a1 is the most massive star found to date with 265 solar masses, as well as being the most luminous at 10 million times the brightness of the Sun.
The entire R136 super cluster produces most of the energy that makes the Tarantula Nebula visible. The estimated mass of the cluster is 450,000 solar masses, suggesting it will probably become a globular cluster in the future.

A super star cluster, named Westerlund 1, also exists in the Milky Way but is heavily obscured by galactic dust.

A spectacular HST close-up of R136 can be found here:

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Type your message and click Add Comment
It is best to login or register first but you may post as a guest.
Enter an optional name and contact email address. Name
Name Email
help private comment