IYA Live Telescope Today – 30 Doradus: “The Tarantula Nebula”

by Tammy Plotner on May 5, 2009

utsidebaraddWow… If you had a chance to watch our live remote telescope today, then you were in for an awesome view of the Tarantula Nebula! Although it didn’t last very long before the dew and clouds chased us out, we were still able to take some great images and run some video footage for you to enjoy. Are you ready to have a look? Then step inside the library and brush away the cobwebs…

The Tarantula Nebula (also known as 30 Doradus, or NGC 2070) is an H II region in the Large Magellanic Cloud. 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 180,000 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. In fact, it is the most active starburst region known in the Local Group of galaxies. It is also the largest and most active such region in the Local Group with an estimated diameter of 200 pc. 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. At its core lies the extremely compact cluster of stars (~2.5 pc diameter) – R136a – that produces most of the energy that makes the nebula visible.

The closest supernova since the invention of the telescope, Supernova 1987A, occurred in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula.

As always, you can visit the remote telescope by clicking on the IYA “LIVE Remote Cam” Logo to your right. Just remember if you get an error message, that means it is either daylight or cloudy. We’ll be broadcasting whenever skies are clear and dark in Central Victoria! Enjoy…

Factual information is copied from Wikipedia. Thank you so much!


Tammy is a professional astronomy author, President Emeritus of Warren Rupp Observatory and retired Astronomical League Executive Secretary. She’s received a vast number of astronomy achievement and observing awards, including the Great Lakes Astronomy Achievement Award, RG Wright Service Award and the first woman astronomer to achieve Comet Hunter's Gold Status.

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