Astronomy Picture of the Day

Tentacles of the Tarantula Nebula

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Tentacles of the Tarantula Nebula

The Tarantula Nebula is a giant
emission nebula
within our neighboring galaxy the
Large Magellanic Cloud.

Inside this cosmic
arachnid lies a huge central young cluster of massive stars,
cataloged as R136
and partially visible on the upper right.

The energetic light and
winds from this cluster light up the nebula and sculpt
the surrounding gas and dust into vast
complex filaments.

These "tentacles" give the
Tarantula Nebula its name.

In this impressive color image from the
Wide-Field Imager camera on ESO's
2.2-meter telescope at
La Silla Observatory,
intricacies of the nebula's complex array of
dust and gas
are visible.

A 300 light-year portion of the Tarantula Nebula is imaged.

The Tarantula Nebula, also dubbed 30 Doradus, lies 170,000 light years away toward the constellation of Dorado.

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