Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Arachnophobes beware: Hubble snaps close-up of the Tarantula

15.03.2011
The wispy arms of the Tarantula Nebula were originally thought to resemble spindly spider legs, giving the nebula its unusual name.

The part of the nebula visible in this image from Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys is criss-crossed with tendrils of dust and gas churned up by recent supernovae. These supernova remnants include NGC 2060, visible above and to the left of the centre of this image, which contains the brightest known pulsar.


Hubble has taken this stunning close-up shot of part of the Tarantula Nebula. This star-forming region of ionised hydrogen gas is in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy which neighbors the Milky Way. It is home to many extreme conditions including supernova remnants and the heaviest star ever found. The Tarantula Nebula is the most luminous nebula of its type in the local universe. Credit: NASA, ESA

The tarantula's bite goes beyond NGC 2060. Near the edge of the nebula, outside the frame, below and to the right, lie the remains of supernova SN 1987a, the closest supernova to Earth to be observed since the invention of telescopes in the 17th century.

Hubble and other telescopes have been returning to spy on this stellar explosion regularly since it blew up in 1987, and each subsequent visit shows an expanding shockwave lighting up the gas around the star, creating a pearl necklace of glowing pockets of gas around the remains of the star. SN 1987a is visible in wide field images of the nebula, such as that taken by the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope.

Together with dying stars, the Tarantula Nebula is packed with young stars which have recently formed from the nebula's supply of hydrogen gas. These toddler-stars shine forth with intense ultraviolet light that ionises the gas, making it light up red.

The light is so intense that although around 170 000 light-years distant, and outside the Milky Way, the Tarantula Nebula is nevertheless visible without a telescope on a dark night to Earth-bound observers. This nebula might be far away, but it is the most luminous example of its type that astronomers have observed in the local Universe.

A compact and extremely bright star cluster called RMC 136 (http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/opo0932a/) lies above and to the left of this field of view, providing much of the radiation that powers the multi-coloured glow. Until recently, astronomers debated whether the source of the intense light was a tightly bound cluster of stars, or perhaps an unknown type of super-star thousands of times bigger than the Sun. It is only in the last 20 years, with the fine detail revealed by Hubble and the latest generation of ground-based telescopes, that astronomers have been able to conclusively prove that it is, indeed, a star cluster.

But even if the Tarantula Nebula doesn't contain this hypothetical super-star, it still hosts some extreme phenomena, making it a popular target for telescopes. Within the bright star cluster lies star RMC 136a1, which was recently found to be the heaviest ever discovered, at around 300 times the mass of the Sun at its birth (http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1030/). This heavyweight is challenging astronomers' theories of star formation, smashing through the upper limit they thought existed on star mass.

Notes

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

Image credit: NASA, ESA

Links

- Images of Hubble: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/archive/category/spacecraft/

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarantula_Nebula

- http://www.naic.edu/~gibson/30dor/

- http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/cosmic_classroom/multiwavelength_
astronomy/multiwavelength_museum/30dor.html
- http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap081111.html
- http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1030/
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R136a1
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R136
- http://seds.org/messier/xtra/ngc/lmc_sn1987A.html
- http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1033/
Contacts
Oli Usher
Hubble/ESA
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49-89-3200-6855
Email: ousher@eso.org

Oli Usher | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.eso.org

Further reports about: Arachnophobes Hubble Milky Way NASA NGC 7331 RMC Tarantula nebula star cluster

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht SF State astronomer searches for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet
20.01.2017 | San Francisco State University

nachricht Molecule flash mob
19.01.2017 | Technische Universität Wien

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>