Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2003 June 22
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Massive Stars of 30 Doradus
Credit: J. Trauger (JPL), J. Westphal (Caltech), N. Walborn (STScI), R. Barba' (La Plata Obs.), NASA

Explanation: In the center of star-forming region 30 Doradus lies a huge cluster of the largest, hottest, most massive stars known. These stars and part of the surrounding nebula are captured here in this gorgeous visible-light Hubble Space Telescope image. Gas and dust clouds in 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, have been sculpted into elongated shapes by powerful winds and ultraviolet radiation from these hot cluster stars. Insets in the picture represent corresponding views from the Hubble's infrared camera where each square measures 15.5 light-years across. Penetrating the obscuring dust, these infrared images themselves offer detailed pictures of star formation within the nebula's collapsing clouds, revealing the presence of newborn massive stars. The 30 Doradus Nebula lies within a neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, located a mere 170,000 light-years away.

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