An extragalactic supernebula confined by gravity

J. L. Turner, S. C. Beck, L. P. Crosthwalte, J. E. Larkin, I. S. McLean, D. S. Meler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Little is known about the origins of globular clusters, which contain hundreds of thousands of stars in a volume only a few light years across. Radiation pressure and winds from luminous young stars should disperse the star-forming gas and disrupt the formation of the cluster. Globular clusters in our Galaxy cannot provide answers; they are billions of years old. Here we report the measurement of infrared hydrogen recombination lines from a young, forming super star cluster in the dwarf galaxy NGC5253. The lines arise in gas heated by a cluster of about one million stars, including 4,000-6,000 massive, hot 'O' starst. It is so young that it is still enshrouded in gas and dust, hidden from optical view. The gases within the cluster seem bound by gravity, which may explain why the windy and luminous O stars have not yet blown away those gases. Young clusters in 'starbursting' galaxies in the local and distant Universe may also be gravitationally confined and cloaked from view.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-623
Number of pages3
Issue number6940
StatePublished - 5 Jun 2003


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