Zooming in on the young cluster RMC 136a

Using a combination of instruments on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers have discovered the most massive stars to date, some weighing at birth more than 300 times the mass of the Sun, or twice as much as the currently accepted limit of 150 solar masses. The most extreme of these stars was found in the cluster RMC 136a (more often nicknamed R136).  Named R136a1, it is found to have a current mass of 265 times that of the Sun. Being a little over a million years old, R136a1 is already “middle-aged” and has undergone an intense weight-loss programme, shedding a fifth of its initial mass over that time, or more than fifty solar masses. It also has the highest luminosity, close to ten million times greater than the Sun.

R136 is a cluster of young, massive and hot stars located inside the Tarantula Nebula, in one of the Milky Way’s neighbouring galaxies, the Large Magellanic Cloud, 165 000 light-years away. This video zooms in on the R136 cluster as seen with the MAD adaptive optics instrument on the Very Large Telescope, starting from a wider view obtained with the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope.


ESO/P. Crowther/C.J. Evans. Music: John Dyson (from the album "Moonwind")

About the Video

Release date:19 July 2010, 11:04
Related releases:eso1030
Duration:40 s
Frame rate:30 fps

About the Object

Category:Star Clusters



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