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Seeing NGC 3603 in a Different Light

Image Credits: (left) NASA, ESA, W. Brandner (JPL/IPAC), E. Grebel (University of Washington),
and Y.-H. Chu (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)
(right) NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

The above two images of the region around the star cluster in NGC 3603 look quite different due to the filter arrangement used to observe the object and produce the color images. The image on the left, released in 1999, was taken in narrow band filters that isolate emission from hydrogen and nitrogen. To the upper right of center is the evolved blue supergiant called Sher 25. The star has a unique circumstellar ring of glowing gas that is a galactic twin to the famous ring around the supernova 1987A. The grayish-bluish color of the ring and the bipolar outflows (blobs to the upper right and lower left of the star) indicates the presence of processed (chemically enriched) material. The image on the right shows portions of the interior of the NGC 3603 nebula with broad band filters that cover the blue, visible, and infrared portions of the spectrum.

Labeled image of NGC 3603: courtesy ESA/Hubble collaborators