The NASA Hubble Space Telescope has captured beautiful and dramatic images of the over 800,000 stars and protostars that compose the Tarantula Nebula, and have utilized near-infrared views to capture the birth of stars there, within the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).
The clouds of dust that are within the Large Magellanic Cloud have previously been one hindrance to viewing the magnificent display of stars and protostars that make up the Tarantula Nebula, 170,000 light years away. However, the NASA Hubble Space Telescope, using near-infrared light, has managed to pierce the cloudy veil of this nearby galaxy to the Milky Way, the third closest one to ours.
The result is that we now have new spectacular images of ageing red giants, red protostars, and supergiants, among the infant stars that this galactic nursery has created.
The 438 photos taken by the NASA Hubble Space Telescope have all been pieced together into a mosaic that covers a span of 600 light years.
According to an astronomer at the NASA Space Telescope Science Institute, Elena Sabbi, because of the intricate detail and “sheer breadth” of the images, it’s possible now to “follow how episodes of star birth migrate across the region in space and time.”
At the American Astronomical Society’s 223rd meeting, Elena Sabi displayed the mosaic composite image made up of the hundreds of photographic images taken by the NASA Space Hubble Telescope
Though stars have been forming within the Tarantula Nebula for at least tens of millions of years, they are still being born there. The new stars are born whenever enough gas has accumulated within areas or “pockets” of star birth scattered throughout the Tarantula Nebula.
Sometimes these pockets merge with each other, creating larger clusters. Studying these images taken by the NASA Hubble Space Telescope will help researchers determine if it’s always the case that supermassive stars are formed or “born” in clusters or if sometimes they can form apart from other supermassive stars.
The Tarantula Nebula is also known as 30 Doradus. It’s in part made up of ionized gas. At the center of the Tarantula Nebula is a concentrated group of stars (R136). This cluster of stars has a width of approximately 35 light-years, and it’s theorized that it is responsible for making the Tarantula Nebula as bright and visible as it is, so that the NASA Hubble Space Telescope was able to capture so many awesome images.
The mosaic picture created by the 438 images the NASA Hubble Space Telescope took depicts billowing clouds of dust and gas, besides showing clusters of brilliant stars. The NASA Hubble Space Telescope has taken previous images of the Tarantula Nebula, but these latest images represent the deepest perspectives ever taken of the low-density cloudy galaxy.
The mosaic image taken by the NASA Hubble Space Telescope and the news about there being over 800,000 stars within the region of the Tarantula Nebula within the Large Magellanic Cloud have been published in a study in the most recent issue of the Astronomical Journal.
Written by: Douglas Cobb