Star cluster and associate nebula R 136
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Star cluster and associate nebula R 136

October 22, 2013
A single-pointing, three-band, near-infrared image of the star cluster and associate nebula R 136, obtained with Gemini South Telescopes Gemini Multi-conjugate Adaptive Optics System (GeMS)/Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager (GSAOI). Despite years of study using the largest telescopes and best instruments, the nature of star cluster centers is not well understood. The best data to date from the Hubble Space Telescope on R 136, a local analog to starburst clusters in distant galaxies, is still incomplete. The crowded fields make it difficult to count all the stars in the core due to their extensive overlapping. With GeMS, astronomers can now resolve most of R 136s core down to one or two solar masses and determine if stars less massive than this prevail. "Having a wide field of view with uniform image quality makes such investigations easier and more accurate than could be done before," says National Optical Astronomy Observatorys deputy director, researcher and principal investigator Robert Blum. "Using GeMS, we can obtain the very best description of the stellar content of R 136 ever. Not until the next generation of large, ground-based telescopes are built will we be able to do better." [Technical Data: This image, made from J, H and Ks filters, was assigned the colors blue, green and red, respectively. The field of view is 1.5 x 1.5 arcminutes and is oriented with north up. The total (integrated) exposure time was 60 minutes cumulative for all filters. Image data from Robert Blum, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, Tucson, Ariz. Color composite image by Travis Rector, University of Alaska Anchorage.] Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA

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