Hubble’s Festive View of a Grand Star-Forming Region

December 15, 2009 15:01 by scibuff

The Hubble Space Telescope captured the most detailed view of the largest stellar nursery in our local galactic neighborhood. The massive, young stellar grouping, called R136, is only a few million years old and resides in the 30 Doradus Nebula (also known as Tarantula Nebula or NGC 2070), a turbulent star-birth region in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. R136 has an estimated mass of the cluster is 450,000 solar masses suggesting it will likely become a globular cluster in the future.

Despite the distance of about 180,000 light years, the nebula is an extremely luminous non-stellar objects. Its luminosity is so great that if it were as close to Earth as the Orion Nebula, the Tarantula Nebula would cast shadows. 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. Several of them are over 100 times more massive than our Sun. These stars are destined to end their lives in a cataclysmic explosion becoming one of the most luminous objects in the universe. The closest supernova observed since the invention of the telescope, Supernova 1987A, occurred in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula.

30 Doradus Nebula, a turbulent star-birth region in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) - Credit: NASA, ESA, F. Paresce (INAF-IASF, Bologna, Italy), R. O'Connell (University of Virginia, Charlottesville), and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee

30 Doradus Nebula, a turbulent star-birth region in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) - Credit: NASA, ESA, F. Paresce (INAF-IASF, Bologna, Italy), R. O'Connell (University of Virginia, Charlottesville), and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee

The image above, 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 birth and evolution of stars in the universe. The Hubble observations were taken Oct. 20-27, 2009. The blue color is light from the hottest, most massive stars; the green from the glow of oxygen; and the red from fluorescing hydrogen.

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Comments

2

Alamar Fernandez

How magnificently beautiful…oh to be a near by star…witnessing…

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