This glowing stellar nursery is home to the most massive star yet found in the Milky Way galaxy.
Captured by the European Southern Observatory’s 27-foot-diameter Very Large Telescope at Cerro Paranal, Chile, the image above combines data taken with violet, red and infrared filters.
The nebula, NGC 3603, is surrounded by a cloud of glowing gas and dust in the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy, about 20,000 light-years from Earth in the Carina constellation. This active star-forming region is one of the brightest and most compact star clusters in our galaxy. The cosmic nursery is teeming with thousands of young, massive suns, including several blue supergiants and three massive Wolf-Rayet stars. These brilliant stars eject huge amounts of mass before blazing out in spectacular supernova explosions. The most massive star in the cluster is 116 times as massive as the sun.