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.

October 4, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
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In the Center of 30 Doradus
Credit: WFPC2, Hubble Space Telescope, NASA

Explanation: In the center of 30 Doradus lies a huge cluster of the largest, hottest, most massive stars known. The center of this cluster, known as R136, is boxed in the upper right portion of the above picture. The gas and dust filling the rest of the picture is predominantly ionized hydrogen from the emission nebula 30 Doradus. R136 is composed of thousands of hot blue stars, some about 50 times more massive than our Sun. 30 Doradus and R136 lie in the LMC - a satellite galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Although the ages of stars in R136 cause it to be best described as an open cluster, R136's density will likely make it a low mass globular cluster in a few billion years.

Tomorrow's picture: Worlds of a Distant Sun

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.