“NGC 3576 is a large cloud of glowing gas located about 9,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Carina, floating in the Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. Rich in hydrogen gas and large amounts of ionized atomic hydrogen, this HII (“H-two”) region gives astronomers a glimpse of the complete life cycles of massive stars. The stars are formed in the vast dark molecular clouds you can see scattered throughout the image. Once born, these giants burn bright during their brief lives that last only a few million years, before their eventual destruction in supernova explosions.
The image seen here is roughly 50 x 75 light years and is a composite of a Chandra X-ray Observatory image (blue) and an image from the European Southern Observatory’s 2.2 meter telescope (yellow and orange). The X-ray data from Chandra appears as a diffuse wash of blue with a few point sources, mostly across the bottom third of the image. The nebula is very dense, and many of the young massive stars were hidden from view by the obscuring gas and dust. Chandra was able to see the radiation and stellar winds driven by the newly formed stars, allowing scientists to better understand the brightness of this nebula.”
-JF [The Universe]
Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Penn State/L.Townsley et al, Optical: ESO/2.2m telescope