Close-up images of features in the Tarantula Nebula
From massive star clusters to sculpted gas embedded with fledgling stars, these four close-up images underscore why 30 Doradus, located in the heart of the Tarantula nebula, is a star-making factory.
30 Doradus is the brightest nearby star-forming region and home to the most massive stars in our cosmic neighborhood of about 25 galaxies. The nebula is close enough to Earth that Hubble can resolve individual stars, giving astronomers important information about the stars' birth and evolution. 30 Doradus resides 170 000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small, satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.
The cluster's core is home to more than 10 000 stars. Several of them may be over 100 times more massive than our Sun. These hefty stars are destined to pop off, like a string of firecrackers, as supernovae in a few million years. Only two or three of the hottest stars in RMC 136 are providing 50 percent of the radiation in the cluster.
The images are part of one of the largest mosaics ever assembled from Hubble photos and include observations taken by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys, which trace the structure of the nebula, combined with observations of glowing oxygen and hydrogen from the European Southern Observatory's MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope, which show the colours of the glowing gases present.
The Hubble observations of 30 Doradus were made in October 2011. Hubble observed 30 separate fields, 15 with each camera.
Credit: NASA, ESA, ESO, D. Lennon and E. Sabbi (ESA/STScI), J. Anderson, S. E. de Mink, R. van der Marel, T. Sohn, and N. Walborn (STScI), N. Bastian (Excellence Cluster, Munich), L. Bedin (INAF, Padua), E. Bressert (ESO), P. Crowther (Sheffield), A. de Koter (Amsterdam), C. Evans (UKATC/STFC, Edinburgh), A. Herrero (IAC, Tenerife), N. Langer (AifA, Bonn), I. Platais (JHU) and H. Sana (Amsterdam)