The Honeycomb Nebula

The Large Magellanic Cloud is one of the Milky Way’s closest companions. It’s only about 160,000 light-years away. It’s home to the Tarantula Nebula, one of the largest and most active star formation regions in our galactic neighborhood. This Hubble Space Telescope image shows a portion of the Tarantula Nebula filled with intriguing structure of stacked “bubbles” that form a nebula within the nebular, the Honeycomb Nebula (at the lower left).

The Honeycomb Nebula was found by accident when astronomers were using ESO’s New Technology Telescope to observe the remnants of a nearby supernova. The nebula’s strange bubble-like shape has has been a puzzle since its discovery in the 1990s. In 2010, a group of astronomers studied the nebula using computer modeling and came to the conclusion that its unique appearance may have been caused by the combined effects of two supernovae. A second explosion may have pierced the expanding shell of material created by an earlier supernova. The nebula’s odd appearance may result from our particular point of view and may not be visible when seen from another direction.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA