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 Supernova Remnant

This tangled web is an object known as SNR 0454-67.2. It’s a supernova remnant created after a massive star ended its life in a cataclysmic explosion and threw off its constituent material out into surrounding space. SNR 0454-67.2 lies in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. The remnant is probably the leftovers from a Type Ia supernova explosion. A Type IA supernova is the death of a white dwarf star that grown by siphoning material from a stellar companion until it reached critical mass and exploded.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

A Star Cluster in Another Galaxy

The clump of stars in the center of the picture is the globular cluster NGC 1898. It’s not in our galaxy. It’s near the middle of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of The Milky Way which contains a rich population of star clusters, making it an ideal laboratory for investigating star formation.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

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