The star-forming region around NGC 3603
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The star-forming region around NGC 3603

April 27, 2005
Among the first images to be obtained of astronomical objects was one of the stellar cluster NGC 3603 that is located in the Carina spiral arm in the Milky Way at a distance of about 20,000 light-years. With its central starburst cluster, it is one of the densest and most massive star forming regions in our Galaxy. Some of the most massive stars - with masses up to 120 times the mass of our Sun - can be found in this cluster.

For a long time astronomers have suspected that the formation of low-mass stars is suppressed by the presence of high-mass stars, but two years ago, stars with masses as low as 10% of the mass of our Sun were detected in NGC 3603 with the ISAAC multi-mode instrument at VLT ANTU. The high stellar density in this region, however, prevented the search for objects with still lower masses, so-called Brown Dwarfs.

The new, high-resolution K-band images, obtained with NAOS-CONICA at YEPUN, now for the first time facilitate the study of the elusive class of brown dwarfs in such a starburst environment. This will, among others, offer very valuable insight into the fundamental problem about the total amount of matter that is deposited into stars in star-forming regions.

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