Incredible New Hubble Image is Full of Stars!

by Nancy Atkinson on December 15, 2009

Hubble image of star-forming region R136 in the 30 Doradus Nebula.  Credit: NASA, ESA, and F. Paresce (INAF-IASF, Bologna, Italy), R. O'Connell (University of Virginia, Charlottesville), and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee
A brand new Hubble image from Wide Field Camera 3 shows the most detailed view of the largest stellar nursery in our local galactic neighborhood. The massive, young stellar grouping, called R136, is only a few million years old and resides in the 30 Doradus Nebula, a turbulent star-birth region in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. There is no known star-forming region in our galaxy as large or as prolific as 30 Doradus. Many of the diamond-like icy blue stars are among the most massive stars known. Several of them are over 100 times more massive than our Sun. In a few million years, this region should provide an incredible show: that’s when these hefty stars are destined to pop off like a string of firecrackers, as supernovas.

The image, taken in ultraviolet, visible, and red light by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, spans about 100 light-years. The nebula is close enough to Earth that Hubble can resolve individual stars, giving astronomers important information about the birth and evolution of stars in the universe. The Hubble observations were taken Oct. 20-27, 2009. The blue color is light from the hottest, most massive stars; the green from the glow of oxygen; and the red from fluorescing hydrogen.

Ground-based version of the Doradus Constellation. Credit: A. Fujii

Ground-based version of the Doradus Constellation. Credit: A. Fujii


The LMC is located 170,000 light-years away and is a member of the Local Group of Galaxies, which also includes the Milky Way.

Click here for larger (and eye-popping!) versions of this image.

You can also “zoom” in and out of this image here on the “Starry Critters” website.
Source: HubbleSite

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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