Faint Webs of the Tarantula Nebula


The faint body of a spider hides in a web of dark dust in this image of the Tarantula Nebula from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the outskirts of this massive nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. What stories or images do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

Located about 170,000 light-years from Earth, the Tarantula Nebula is the largest and brightest known nebula in the Local Group of galaxies; a group of nearby galaxies that includes the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and the Andromeda Galaxy. The nebula is a vast star-making factory. It takes light more than 650 years to cross this nebula.

The wispy structures in this nebula glow in this image because new stars give off strong ultraviolet radiation which causes the atoms in the cloud to become excited and glow. Hydrogen gas usually glows red but scientists tweak the filters used on the Hubble telescope to bring out different details in different colors of light. In this image, hydrogen glows green. Eventually, as the gas is blown away from the new stars, clusters of stars, like the Pleiades, will be revealed.

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The ancient peoples saw pictures in the sky. From those patterns in the heavens, ancient storytellers created legends about heroes, maidens, dragons, bears, centaurs, dogs and mythical creatures...
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