Astronomy Picture of the Day
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October 27, 1995
The Tarantula and the Supernova
Telescope photograph by David Malin
In this close-up of the Large Magellanic Cloud,
the spidery looking nebula on the left is fittingly known as
as the Tarantula nebula. It is an
surrounding a cluster of hot, young stars
called the 30 Doradus super cluster. This
cluster may contain the most massive stars known (about 50 times
the mass of the Sun). Such massive stars put out
more than 100 times as much energy as our Sun.
The bright "star" (lower right) is actually
and is a harbinger of things to come for the stars
within the Tarantula. Massive stars
burn their nuclear fuel at drastically enhanced rates to support
their high energy output. As a result their lives
last only a few million years compared to the Sun's few billions of years.
They end in a spectacular death explosion, a
like the star which exploded in 1987 as seen above.
Supernovae may leave behind imploded stellar cores which
form neutron stars or
Tomorrow's picture: The Delta Clipper
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