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Published November 1992 | Published
Journal Article Open

Hubble Space Telescope Planetary Camera images of R136


The Planetary Camera of the Hubble Space Telescope has been used to obtain broad and narrowband images ofR136, the core of the massive star cluster 30 Doradus in the Large Magellanic Cloud. R136a, the brightest component ofR136, is shown to have at least 12 separate components, including the eight originally identified by speckle interferometry. Three of the 12 components are previously unidentified close companions of the speckle components. The stars within R136a are found to have luminosities and colors of normal evolved (Wolf-Rayet and blue supergiants) and zero-age main-sequence (ZAMS) massive stars. A narrowband He II filter was used to investigate the Wolf-Rayet stellar population. We find that three stars in R136a are of the Wolf-Rayet type; of the two identified from ground-based data, one is now resolved into two components. We present color-magnitude diagrams and a luminosity function of the stars within the larger region (~2 pc) defined as R136. We find that the stars in R136 are similar in color and luminosity to those of cluster members that lie outside that crowded inner region. The lower end of the color-magnitude diagram corresponds to ZAMS spectral type B3. No red supergiants have been detected within R136. The luminosity per unit area in the inner 1" (0.25 pc) of R136 is ≥ 50 times that of the center of Orion for a comparable area and seven times that of the core of NGC 3603. The luminosity per unit area of all of R136 is comparable to that of Orion but is sustained over 130 times the area. An F336W surface brightness profile is constructed for R136 based on the stellar photometry. The distribution is found to be consistent with a pure power law with l(r}ɑ r^y with y=-1.72±0.06 or with a small core with r_c<0.25", considerably smaller than predicted from ground-based observations. In the latter case p_0 > 5 X 10^4 M_☉ pc^(-3). The implied upper limit on the relaxation time for the cluster is much smaller than the age of 3.5 X 10^6 yrs required by the presence of Wolf-Rayet stars. This suggests that relaxation effects have been very important in determining the observed structure of the cluster unless a large population of lower mass stars is also present.

Additional Information

© 1992 American Astronomical Society. Provided by the NASA Astrophysics Data System. Received 14 May 1992; revised 24 July 1992. B.C. gratefully acknowledges the unfailing logistical and moral support of E. Jaderlund and S. Durham from her home institution. We are also grateful to T. Kreidl who made the original suggestion to include R136 among the GTO targets. This work was conducted by the WF/PC Investigation Definition Team, under NASA Contract No. NAS5-25421.

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Published - 1992AJ____104_1721C.pdf


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