The Tarantula as never seen before
Astronomers are exploring and mapping this nebula as part of the Hubble Treasury Project Tarantula (HTTP), in an attempt to understand its stellar anatomy.
Spectacular. You cannot otherwise define the Hubble image that gives us the Tarantula Nebula. An image of this fascinating region full of star clusters, glowing gas and dark dust. Astronomers are exploring and mapping this nebula as part of the Hubble Treasury Project Tarantula (HTTP), in an attempt to understand its stellar anatomy.
The Tarantula Nebula is located in the southern constellation Dorado (Dolphin Fish), 160,000 light-years from Earth. Fred Herrmann of Huntsville, Ala. captured this image remotely from Siding Springs, Australia. It was released to Space.com on Dec. 1, 2013.
HTTP is an Italian project PI, Elena Sabbi and part of the team Monica Tosi, INAF – Astronomical Observatory of Bologna and vice president of the National Institute for Astrophysics and Michele Cignoni, postdoctoral Hubble Space Telescope Institute in Baltimore and already a postdoctoral of INAF – OA Bologna.
The Tarantula Nebula is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, in our galactic neighborhood. It is not the first image released from the Hubble telescope, but it is certainly the most detailed and thorough.
The image is in fact made up of near-infrared observations made with both the Wide Filed Bedroom 3 (WGC3) is with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). Because of the use of infrared filters a purple mist fills the frame with deep red wisps of dust and bright stars scattered. This region is an example of a so-called H II region, clouds of gas ionized by ultraviolet radiation by young stars. The zones of star formation are in fact always in correspondence of this type of nebulous objects.
To the left of center is a visible cluster of stars known as R136. It was initially indicated as a star, but astronomers do not interpret as a single star could ionize such a large H II region. Only at a later time, astronomers have realized that it was a star cluster, a giant star cluster.
R136 is likely to become a globular cluster, a spherical bubble of old stars that orbit around the center of its galaxy. R136 is so huge that contributes greatly to the brilliance of the Tarantula Nebula, emitting most of the energy that makes it so visible.
The image was released as part of the 223rd annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society being held in Washington.