A Spider in Space


TaranutlaSeveral million young stars are vying for our attention in this image of a stellar breeding ground in 30 Doradus, located in the heart of the Tarantula Nebula. Early astronomers nicknamed the nebula because its glowing filaments resemble spider legs.

30 Doradus is the brightest star-forming region visible in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small, satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. It’s home to the most massive stars yet found.

This composite image is one of the largest mosaics ever assembled from Hubble photos and includes multiple observations taken by Hubble‘s Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys. The Hubble images were combined with ground-based data taken with the European Southern Observatory’s 2.2-meter telescope in La Silla, Chile.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA / ESO

A Spider in Space


TaranutlaSeveral million young stars are vying for our attention in this image of a stellar breeding ground in 30 Doradus, located in the heart of the Tarantula Nebula. Early astronomers nicknamed the nebula because its glowing filaments resemble spider legs.

30 Doradus is the brightest star-forming region visible in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small, satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. It’s home to the most massive stars yet found.

This composite image is one of the largest mosaics ever assembled from Hubble photos and includes multiple observations taken by Hubble‘s Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys. The Hubble images were combined with ground-based data taken with the European Southern Observatory’s 2.2-meter telescope in La Silla, Chile.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA / ESO

Colliding Star Clusters


cluster-collisionThis Hubble Space Telescope image shows a pair of star clusters that are believed to be in the early stages of merging. The clusters are parts the gigantic 30 Doradus nebula (aka the Tarantula Nebula) which is 170,000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The blue color is light from the hottest, most massive stars; the green from the glow of oxygen; and the red from fluorescing hydrogen.

Image Credit: NASA

A Star Is Born


Actually, a whole lot of them. This massive, young stellar grouping, called R136, is only a few million years old and resides in the 30 Doradus (aka Tarantula) Nebula, a turbulent star-birthing region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. There is no known star-forming region in our galaxy as large or as prolific as 30 Doradus.

Many of the diamond-like icy blue stars are among the most massive stars known. Some are 100 times more massive than our sun. These huge stars are destined to explode like a string of firecrackers when they become supernovas in a few million years.

This picture, taken in ultraviolet, visible, and red light by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, spans about 100 light-years. The nebula is close enough to Earth that Hubble can resolve individual stars, giving astronomers important information about the stars’ birth and evolution.

The brilliant stars are carving deep cavities in the surrounding material by unleashing a torrent of ultraviolet light, and strong stellar winds (streams of charged particles), which scour away the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud in which the stars were born. The image shows a  what looks like a landscape of pillars, ridges, and valleys, as well as a dark region in the center that looks a bit like the outline of a Christmas tree. In addition to sculpting the gaseous “terrain,” these brilliant stars are also helping create a new generation of offspring. When the stellar winds hit dense walls of gas, they create shock waves which can create a new wave of star birth.

This picture was put together from observations taken in October, 2009. The blue color is light from the hottest, most massive stars; the green from the glow of oxygen; the red from fluorescing hydrogen.

Image Credit: NASA