From the 2Mass Image Gallery
NGC 3603 is the largest H II (ionized hydrogen) region in the Milky Way Galaxy and is considered a giant H II region, in the same class of objects as 30 Doradus in the Large Magellanic Cloud. (Many spiral galaxies have large numbers of these giant H II regions; the Milky Way has very few.) NGC 3603 is along the Carina spiral arm of the Galaxy, at a distance of about 6000-7000 pc (20000-23000 light years) from us. The nebula is ionized by an enormous cluster of hot, young, massive stars (seen shining brightly toward the center of the 2MASS image). Image mosaic by E. Kopan (IPAC).
This image is a three-band composite constructed from 2MASS Atlas Images. They are infrared images and therefore must be mapped into false colors: J light (1.2 µm) into blue, H light (1.6 µm) in green, and Ks light (2.2 µm) into red. The Atlas Images are produced in the 2MASS Production Processing System. North is up and east is to the left.
The text is based on accompanying on-line materials.
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Last Modified On: Sunday, December 17, 2000