A Double Cluster at the Core of 30 Doradus

Sabbi, E.; Lennon, D. J.; Gieles, M.; de Mink, S. E.; Walborn, N. R.; Anderson, J.; Bellini, A.; Panagia, N.; van der Marel, R.; Maíz Apellániz, J.
The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 754, Issue 2, article id. L37, 6 pp. (2012).


Based on an analysis of data obtained with the Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope we report the identification of two distinct stellar populations in the core of the giant H II region 30 Doradus in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The most compact and richest component coincides with the center of R136 and is ~1 Myr younger than a second more diffuse clump, located ~5.4 pc toward the northeast. We note that published spectral types of massive stars in these two clumps lend support to the proposed age difference. The morphology and age difference between the two sub-clusters suggests that an ongoing merger may be occurring within the core of 30 Doradus. This finding is consistent with the predictions of models of hierarchical fragmentation of turbulent giant molecular clouds, according to which star clusters would be the final products of merging smaller sub-structures.

Based on observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by AURA Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555.