Tarantula Nebula

Tarantula Nebula

Tarantula Nebula
Emission nebula
H II region
The Tarantula Nebula, first light image of the TRAPPIST national telescope at La Silla Observatory
Observation data: J2000 epoch
Right ascension 05h 38m 38s[1]
Declination −69° 05.7′[1]
Distance 160 ± 10[2][3]ly   (49 ± 3 k pc)
Apparent magnitude (V) +8[2]
Apparent dimensions (V) 40′ × 25′[2]
Constellation Dorado
Physical characteristics
Radius 300 ly
Absolute magnitude (V) ~ −11.7
Notable features In LMC
Designations NGC 2070,[2] Doradus Nebula,[1] Dor Nebula,[1] 30 Doradus
The brilliant stars in the Tarantula Nebula are unleashing a torrent of ultraviolet light and stellar winds that are etching away at the hydrogen gas cloud in which the stars were born.

The Tarantula Nebula (also known as 30 Doradus) is an H II region in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). It was originally thought to be a star, but in 1751 Nicolas Louis de Lacaille recognized its nebular nature.

The Tarantula Nebula has an apparent magnitude of 8. Considering its distance of about 49 kpc[2] (160,000 light-years), this is an extremely luminous non-stellar object. Its luminosity is so great that if it were as close to Earth as the Orion Nebula, the Tarantula Nebula would cast shadows.[4] In fact it is the most active starburst region known in the Local Group of galaxies. It is also one of the largest such regions in the Local Group with an estimated diameter of 200 pc.[3] The nebula resides on the leading edge of the LMC where ram pressure stripping, and the compression of the interstellar medium likely resulting from this, is at a maximum.

30 Doradus has at its centre the star cluster NGC 2070 which includes the compact concentration of stars known as R136[5] that produces most of the energy that makes the nebula visible. The estimated mass of the cluster is 450,000 solar masses, suggesting it will likely become a globular cluster in the future.[6] In addition to NGC 2070, the Tarantula Nebula contains a number of other star clusters including the much older Hodge 301. The most massive stars of Hodge 301 have already exploded in supernovae.[7]

The closest supernova observed since the invention of the telescope,[8] Supernova 1987A, occurred in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula.[9] There is a prominent supernova remnant enclosing the open cluster NGC 2060, but the remnants of many other supernovae are difficult to detect in the complex nebulosity.[10]


The young cluster RMC 136a


  1. ^ a b c d "SIMBAD Astronomical Database". Results for Tarantula Nebula. Retrieved 2006-12-22. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "SEDS Students for the Exploration and Development of Space". Results for Tarantula Nebula. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 30 Doradus .. 49 kpc +- 3 kpc 
  3. ^ a b Lebouteiller, V.; Bernard-Salas, J.; Brandl, B.; Whelan, D. G.; et al. (June 2008). "Chemical Composition and Mixing in Giant H II Regions: NGC 3603, 30 Doradus, and N66". The Astrophysical Journal 680 (1): 398–419.  
  4. ^ http://www.noao.edu/news/2011/pr1102.php
  5. ^ Massey, P; Hunter, D. (January 1998). "Star Formation in R136: A Cluster of O3 Stars Revealed by Hubble Space Telescope Spectroscopy". The Astrophysical Journal 493 (1): 180.  
  6. ^ Bosch, Guillermo; Terlevich, Elena; Terlevich, Roberto (2009). "Gemini/GMOS Search for Massive Binaries in the Ionizing Cluster of 30 Dor". Astronomical Journal 137 (2): 3437–3441.  
  7. ^ Grebel, Eva K.; Chu, You-Hua (2000). "Hubble Space Telescope Photometry of Hodge 301: An "Old" Star Cluster in 30 Doradus". Astronomical Journal 119 (2): 787–799.  
  8. ^ "Tarantula Nebula's Cosmic Web a Thing of Beauty". SPACE.com. 2011-03-21. Retrieved 2011-03-26. 
  9. ^ . Authors: Couper,Heather; Henbest, Nigel. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  10. ^ Lazendic, J. S.; Dickel, J. R.; Jones, P. A. (2003). "Supernova Remnant Candidates in the 30 Doradus Nebula". The Astrophysical Journal 596: 287.  

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