Astronomy Picture of the Day

30 Doradus: The Tarantula Zone

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30 Doradus: The Tarantula Zone

Explanation: The Tarantula Nebula is more than 1,000 light-years across - a giant emission nebula within our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud. Inside this cosmic arachnid lies a central young cluster of massive stars, cataloged as R136, whose intense radiation and strong winds have helped energize the nebular glow and shape the spidery filaments. In this impressive color mosaic of images from the Curtis Schmidt telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile, other young star clusters can be seen still within the nebula's grasp. Also notable among the denizens of the Tarantula zone are several dark clouds, sprawling wispy filaments of gas, compact emission nebula, nearly spherical supernova remnants, and areas surrounding hot stars known as superbubbles. The rich mosaic's field of view covers an area on the sky about the size of the full moon in the southern constellation Dorado.

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