Posts Tagged ‘30 Doradus’

Many Faces in Doradus

NASA, ESA, D. Lennon and E. Sabbi (ESA/STScI), J. Anderson, S. E. de Mink, R. van der Marel, T. Sohn, and N. Walborn (STScI), N. Bastian (Excellence Cluster, Munich), L. Bedin (INAF, Padua), E. Bressert (ESO), P. Crowther (University of Sheffield), A. de Koter (University of Amsterdam), C. Evans (UKATC/STFC, Edinburgh), A. Herrero (IAC, Tenerife), N. Langer (AifA, Bonn), I. Platais (JHU), and H. Sana (University of Amsterdam)

Many faces hide around the star cluster NGC 2060 in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the loose collection of stars and nebula. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

The star cluster NGC 2060 is a family of stars that are drifting apart. These stellar siblings were born from the same star cloud but now they are no longer gravitationally bound. Within a few million years the grouping will cease to be as all the stars will have dispersed. The nebula is full of little gems besides young stars. Look just left of center in the image. A supernova, created when a massive hot star ended its short life after burning all of its nuclear fuel, exploded blowing a bubble within the cloud about 10,000 years ago. The dark area near the center of the image is a dense cloud of cold dust between Earth and the cloud. Other smaller dark globs of dust blot out the starlight from behind. Fierce stellar winds and blistering ultraviolet radiation from the young stars in this nebula push the glowing gas and dust into arcs and pillars

NGC 2060 is part of 30 Doradus, the brightest star-forming region that we know about 170,000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The LMC is a dwarf galaxy near our Milky Way Galaxy. The massive nebula is home to some of the most massive stars in our cosmic neighborhood. It is so bright and close, that Hubble can see individual stars offering scientists information on how stars are born, evolve and die.

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Blown Away

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.

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Ripples in an Explosion of Light


Waves of gas and dust ripple through this image of the Large Magellanic Cloud from the Herschel and Spitzer space telescopes.

Explore the curls of dust and waves of gas creating an explosion of light in this image. What shapes or stories do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

Both the ESA Herschel Space Observatory and NASA Spitzer Space Telescope see the Universe in the infrared. Infrared is a part of the spectrum of light that is just below visible light. We feel infrared light energy as heat. What these telescopes offer us is a way to see the heat of stars being born and of warm dust. And it allows astronomers to peek inside nebula to see warm objects that otherwise are blocked by thick dust in visible light.

The bright object to the left of center is called 30 Doradus or the Tarantula Nebula. This nebula is one of the largest star-making areas known to scientists. Look for other bubbles of star-formation around the image. Any bright blob is a an area of warm dust and possible new star formation.

The Large Magellanic Cloud is a small, irregular dwarf galaxy that has come alongside the Milky Way Galaxy. 30 Doradus, deep within the LMC, is found about 170,000 light-years from Earth. Both the LMC and another small companion galaxy known as the Small Magellanic Cloud can be seen in the night skies of the southern hemisphere.

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A Glittering Panorama


The legs of a spider shine in the light of several million stars in this new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of 30 Doradus and the Tarantula Nebula.

This image offers loads for the imag­i­na­tion. What sto­ries and pic­tures do you see float­ing in this neb­u­lar cloud? Leave a note in the comments below.

The Taran­tula Neb­ula is a vast star-forming fac­tory; one of the largest that we know. In earth­bound tele­scopes, the sprawl­ing clouds of gas and dust resem­bled the legs of a spi­der, giv­ing the neb­ula its name. Explore the dark clouds, glow­ing gas, new stars and churned dust that make up the neb­ula. Recent super­novae, includ­ing NGC 2060 just left of cen­ter in the image, have sent ten­drils of dust rolling through the neb­ula. NGC 2060 con­tains the bright­est known pul­sar. A pul­sar is a rapidly spin­ning neu­tron star, the super-dense core of the star left after the colos­sal super­nova explo­sion scat­tered the bulk of the star into space. The churn­ing stirs up the neb­ula, cre­at­ing dense pock­ets of gas and dust that may one day glow as new stars. The colors in the cloud come from glowing gases. Hydrogen gas glows red. Oxygen glows blue.

The image, released to celebrate Hubble‘s 22nd anniversary, is one of the largest mosaics assembled from Hubble images. Because the nebula is close to Earth, Hubble can make out individual stars. This detail gives astronomers important information about star birth, evolution and death. Look close in the image and you can see baby stars still wrapped in their dark cocoons to giant stars that will explode in cataclysmic supernovae within just a few million years. In between, look for sparkling star clusters.

New stars shine through­out the image. The nebula’s rich sup­ply of hydro­gen fuels the cre­ation of these new stars. Their blis­ter­ing ultra­vi­o­let light causes the neb­ula to glow in red light. Much of the radi­a­tion that lights up the neb­ula comes from the densely packed group of stars called RMC 136. The cluster is part of a larger group of stars known as NGC 2070. This young star cluster contains about 500,000 stars.

The Taran­tula Neb­ula lies about 170,000 light-years from Earth in the Large Mag­el­lanic Cloud toward the constellation Doradus. The LMC is a com­pan­ion galaxy to the Milky Way Galaxy which is home to the Sun and the bright stars we see in the sky and is right in our galaxy’s backyard.

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Growing, glowing spider

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/L.Townsley et al.; Infrared: NASA/JPL/PSU/L.Townsley et al.

A glowing spider is grows inside this massive star-forming region known as the Tarantula Nebula.

Explore the spider outlines in this image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope. What stories or patterns does your imagination see? Leave a note below.

The Tarantula Nebula or 30 Doradus, is one of the largest star-making regions known to astronomers. It is huge and it is growing. It takes light more than 1,100 years, traveling nine trillion kilometers per year, to cross the nebula. The gargantuan nebula is found in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighboring dwarf galaxy, about 160,000 light-years from Earth. About 2,400 massive lie in the heart of the Tarantula Nebula. Scorching radiation and powerful winds from these stars sculpt and shape the surrounding nebula. The ultraviolet radiation from the stars also causes the hydrogen gas within the nebula to glow bright red.

Look deep in the nebula for bubbles in the nebula. Shockwaves, like ripples in a pond, move out from the massive stars. Bubbles also form as the massive stars destroy themselves as supernovae.

The Tarantula Nebula has enough material to make 450,000 sun-like stars. Astronomers speculate that one day the nebula will form a globular cluster. The Tarantula Nebula is similar to the closer Orion Nebula. If the much brighter Tarantula Nebula was as close to Earth as the Orion Nebula, it would cast shadows.


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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