NASA, ESA, F. Paresce (INAF-IASF, Bologna, Italy), R. O’Connell (University of Virginia, Charlottesville), and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee
Massive stars carve out deep cavities, blowing away gas and dust in the turbulent scene in the Large Magellanic Cloud in this infrared image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
Zoom across the star-birth region of space surrounding R136. Dive into the swirls, peaks, ridges and deep hollows of this brilliant nebula. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.
R136 is a large, young star cluster. It is only a few million years old but already is home to some of the most massive stars known. Some of these stars are more than 100 times more massive than our Sun. These monster stars will explode into supernovae within just a few million years. Scorching ultraviolet light from these huge suns excites the atoms in the nebula causing it to glow. These stars also send out strong solar winds creating a bubble in the nebula and sculpting a fantastic landscape. While they move the gas and dust around, the winds create shockwaves within the nebula that may trigger the birth of new stars.
R136 resides within the 30 Doradus Nebula. This massive nebula is found in the Large Magellanic Cloud about 170,000 light-years from Earth. The LMC is a small dwarf galaxy drifting near the Milky Way Galaxy. The LMC and another small irregular galaxy, called the Small Magellanic Cloud, can be seen in the skies of the southern hemisphere.