Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud (by Hubble Heritage)
Brash young stars vie for attention in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of a rowdy stellar nursery located in the heart of the Tarantula Nebula (also known as 30 Doradus). Early astronomers gave the nebula this descriptive nickname because its glowing, spindly filaments look like spider legs.
30 Doradus is the brightest “starburst” region visible in a neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. No known star-forming region in our own galaxy is as large or as prolific as 30 Doradus. Fortunately, 30 Doradus can be seen clearly from Earth, and it is nearby enough for Hubble to resolve its individual stars. This allows astronomers the rare opportunity to study stellar evolution closely in the exotic, extragalactic context of a starburst.
The Hubble composite image comprises one of the largest mosaics ever assembled from Hubble photos, including observations taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys. Hubble’s unparalleled eye for fine, intricate detail is composited with ground-based data that trace hydrogen gas (in red) and oxygen (in blue). These complementary observations of the Tarantula Nebula were taken with the European Southern Observatory’s 2.2-meter telescope in La Silla, Chile. NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute are releasing this image to celebrate Hubble’s 22nd anniversary.