LMC in IR and Radio

The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is a satellite of the Milky Way containing about 30 billion stars. In this combined radio and near infrared view the LMC’s cool and warm dust are shown in green and blue, respectively, and hydrogen gas in red. The image is composed of data from the European Space Agency Herschel and Planck missions; two retired NASA missions, the Infrared Astronomy Survey and Cosmic Background Explorer; and the ground-based Parkes, ATCA, and Mopra radio telescopes.

Image Credits: ESA / NASA / NASA-JPL / Caltech ; Christopher Clark (STScI) / S. Kim (Sejong University) / T. Wong (UIUC)

Some Really Big Stars

R136 observed with WFC3This Hubble image shows the central region of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The young and dense star cluster R136 can be seen the lower right of the image. This cluster contains hundreds of young blue stars. One of them is the most massive star detected in the universe to date.

Dozens of stars in the cluster exceed 50 solar masses, and nine very massive stars are all more than 100 times more massive than the Sun. The most massive is R136a1—weighing in at more than 250 solar masses.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

Cosmic Leftovers

DEM L 190These delicate filaments are actually sheets of debris from a stellar explosion in a neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small companion galaxy to the Milky Way visible from the southern hemisphere. This remnant, know as N49 or DEM L 190, is from a massive star that died in a supernova blast thousands of years ago. This filamentary material will eventually be recycled into building new generations of stars in the LMC. Our own Sun and planets were formed from similar debris of supernovae that exploded in our own galaxy billions of years ago.

These filaments harbor a very powerful spinning neutron star that may be the central remnant from the supernova. It is quite common for the core of an exploded supernova star to become a spinning neutron star (or pulsar) after the immediate shedding of the supernova’s outer layers.  The pulsar in N 49 is spinning at a rate of once every 8 seconds. It also has a super-strong magnetic field a thousand trillion times stronger than Earth’s magnetic field. This places this star into the exclusive class of objects called “magnetars.”

Image Credit: NASA

Baby Stars

LH_95These swirls of gas and dust and the stars clustered in and around them are know as LH 95. It a region of low-mass, infant stars and their much more massive stellar neighbors found in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

The largest stars in LH 95 (those with at least 3X the mass of the Sun) generate strong stellar winds and high levels of UV radiation that heat the surrounding interstellar gas. The result is a bluish nebula of glowing hydrogen expanding outward into the molecular cloud that originally collapsed to form these massive stars. However, some dense parts of this star-forming region remain intact despite the stellar winds. The appear as dark dusty filaments in the picture. These dust lanes absorb some of the blue light emitted by the stars behind them causing them appear redder. Other parts of the molecular cloud have contracted to form infant stars, the fainter of which have a high tendency to cluster.

Image Credit: NASA

A Shell in a Fish

supernova_shellThese thin wisps of gas are an object known as SNR 0519. The blood-red clouds are the remains from a violent explosion of a star as a supernova seen about 600 years ago. The star that exploded is known to have been a white dwarf star—a Sun-like star in the final stages of its life.

SNR 0519 is over 150 000 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Dorado (The Dolphinfish), a constellation that also contains most of our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud, a region of the sky is full of intriguing and beautiful deep sky objects. The Large Magellanic Cloud orbits the Milky Way galaxy as a satellite and is the fourth largest in our group of galaxies.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

Monster Stars

R136 observed with WFC3This Hubble image shows the central region of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The young and dense star cluster R136 can be seen the lower right of the image. This cluster contains hundreds of young blue stars. One of them is the most massive star detected in the universe to date.

Dozens of stars in the cluster exceed 50 solar masses, and nine very massive stars are all more than 100 times more massive than the Sun. The most massive is R136a1—weighing in at more than 250 solar masses.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

NGC 346

NGC 346NGC 346 is the brightest star-forming region in the Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy about 210,000 light-years away from Earth. The light, stellar wind, and heat given off by massive stars have spread the glowing gas within and around this star cluster, forming the surrounding wispy, cowbell-like structure of the nebula.

Image Credit: NASA

Rotating a Galaxy

This animation illustrates the rotation rate of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Hubble Space Telescope observations have been used to determine that the central part of the LMC completes a rotation every 250 million years. It takes more than 10 million years for even the small amount of rotation illustrated in this video.

Video Credit: NASA

Blue Wisps

Turquoise-tinted plumes in the Large Magellanic CloudThis Hubble image shows part of the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The colors seen in this picture are different from what we normally see in the images of the Large Magellanic Cloud  because an unusual set of filters was used. The customary R filter, which passes red light, was replaced by a filter letting through the near-infrared light. Hydrogen gas normally appears pink because it shines most brightly in the red. In this case, however, other less prominent emission lines dominate in the blue and green filters.

Image Credit: NASA

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