Hubble's close encounter with the Tarantula

Aug 12, 2012
Image: European Space Agency

(Phys.org) -- Turning its eye to the Tarantula Nebula, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has taken this close-up of the outskirts of the main cloud of the Nebula.

The bright wispy structures are the signature of an environment rich in ionized , called H II by astronomers. In reality these appear red, but the choice of filters and colors of this image, which includes exposures both in visible and infrared light, make the gas appear green.

These regions contain recently formed stars, which emit powerful ultraviolet radiation that ionizes the gas around them. These clouds are ephemeral as eventually the stellar winds from the and the ionization process will blow away the clouds, leaving like the Pleiades.

Located in the , one of our neighboring galaxies, and situated at a distance of 170,000 light-years away from Earth, the is the brightest known nebula in the Local Group of galaxies. It is also the largest (around 650 light-years across) and most active star-forming region known in our group of galaxies, containing numerous and gas and two bright star clusters. A recent Hubble image shows a large part of the nebula immediately adjacent to this field of view.

The cluster at the Tarantula nebula’s center is relatively young and very bright. While it is outside the field of view of this image, the energy from it is responsible for most of the brightness of the Nebula, including the part we see here. The nebula is in fact so luminous that if it were located within 1,000 light-years from Earth, it would cast shadows on our planet.

The Tarantula Nebula was host to the closest supernova ever detected since the invention of the telescope, supernova 1987A, which was visible to the naked eye.

The image was produced by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, and has a field of view of approximately 3.3 by 3.3 arcminutes.

A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Image Processing Competition by contestant Judy Schmidt. Hidden Treasures is an initiative to invite astronomy enthusiasts to search the Hubble archive for stunning images that have never been seen by the general public. The competition has now closed and the results will be published soon.

Explore further: An old-looking galaxy in a young universe

Related Stories

Image: Hubble peeks inside a stellar cloud

Apr 23, 2012

(Phys.org) -- These bright stars shining through what looks like a haze in the night sky are part of a young stellar grouping in one of the largest known star formation regions of the Large Magellanic Cloud ...

Hubble observes a dwarf galaxy with a bright nebula

May 10, 2012

(Phys.org) -- The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has made detailed observations of the dwarf galaxy NGC 2366. While it lacks the elegant spiral arms of many larger galaxies, NGC 2366 is home to a bright, ...

Image: Hubble's lagoon

Oct 15, 2010

Like brush strokes on a canvas, ridges of color seem to flow across the Lagoon Nebula, a canvas nearly 3 light-years wide.

Hubble sees a celestial swan and butterfly

Jun 05, 2012

(Phys.org) -- This image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows planetary nebula NGC 7026. Located just beyond the tip of the tail of the constellation of Cygnus (The Swan), this butterfly-shaped cloud of glowing ...

Recommended for you

An old-looking galaxy in a young universe

9 hours ago

A team of astronomers, led by Darach Watson, from the University of Copenhagen used the Very Large Telescope's X-shooter instrument along with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe ...

Giant methane storms on Uranus

10 hours ago

Most of the times we have looked at Uranus, it has seemed to be a relatively calm place. Well, yes its atmosphere is the coldest place in the solar system. But, when we picture the seventh planet in our ...

Where do stars form in merging galaxies?

12 hours ago

Collisions between galaxies, and even less dramatic gravitational encounters between them, are recognized as triggering star formation. Observations of luminous galaxies, powered by starbursts, are consistent ...

Could the Milky Way become a quasar?

Feb 27, 2015

A quasar is what you get when a supermassive black hole is actively feeding on material at the core of a galaxy. The region around the black hole gets really hot and blasts out radiation that we can see billions ...

Galactic dinosaurs not extinct

Feb 27, 2015

One of the biggest mysteries in galaxy evolution is the fate of the compact massive galaxies that roamed the early Universe.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.