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.

2004 February 2
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 the highest resolution version available.

The Tarantula Nebula from Spitzer
Credit: B. Brandl (Cornell & Leiden) et al., JPL, Caltech, NASA

Explanation: In the heart of monstrous Tarantula Nebula lies one of the most unusual star clusters. Known as NGC 2070 or R136, it is home to a great number of hot young stars. The energetic light from these stars continually ionizes nebula gas, while their energetic particle wind blows bubbles and defines intricate filaments. The new Spitzer Space Telescope took the above representative-color infrared image of this great LMC cluster. The image details the cluster's tumultuous center in gas, dust and young stars. The 30 Doradus nebula is one of the largest star-formation regions known, and has been creating unusually strong episodes of star formation every few million years. In the heart of this heart is a central knot of stars that is so dense it was once thought to be a single star.

Tomorrow's picture: cosmic collision

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