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.

2009 December 21
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 the highest resolution version available.

Star Cluster R136 Bursts Out
Credit: NASA, ESA, & F. Paresce (INAF-IASF), R. O'Connell (U. Virginia), & the HST WFC3 Science Oversight Committee

Explanation: In the center of star-forming region 30 Doradus lies a huge cluster of the largest, hottest, most massive stars known. These stars, known collectively as star cluster R136, were captured above in visible light by the newly installed Wide Field Camera peering though the recently refurbished Hubble Space Telescope. 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. The 30 Doradus Nebula lies within a neighboring galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud and is located a mere 170,000 light-years away.

Note: An APOD editor will review great space images on 2010 Jan. 14 in Houghton, Michigan.
Tomorrow's picture: proto orion

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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