Tarantula Nebula

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

The largest Nebula Out there.

The Tarantula Nebula

The Connection with the hubble has been restored!!!

Welcome back.

At PicturePenner, we strive for challenges. So, we wanted to test how far could we send this hubble. We refused to stop the search for nebulas. We visited many. Rejected them. But, this one, particularly caught our eyes. We almost went past it. But, how can we go past the largest star producing object in the entire universe and not notice? So, we dived in.

This nebula, looks similar to one the most poisonous spiders on earth. The Tarantula. This is the TARANTULA NEBULA.

This nebula was discovered/ first observed by Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille during an expedition to the cape of good hope, somewhere between 1751 and 1753. He catalogued it as the second of the "Nebulae of the First Class", "Nebulosities not accompanied by any star visible in the telescope of two feet". It was described as a diffuse nebula 20' across.

The name Tarantula Nebula arose the mid 20th century from the appearance in deep photographic exposures. 30 Doradus has often been treated as the designation of a star, or of the central star cluster NGC 2070, but is now generally treated as referring to the whole nebula area of the Tarantula Nebula.

Magellanic Cloud

Digging in......

The Tarantula Nebula (also known as 30 Doradus) is an H II region in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). As seen from the solar system, this region forms it’s south east corner. This is catalogued as number NGC 2070. The Tarantula Nebula is an immense ionised hydrogen region in the Large Magellanic cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.

The Nebula consists of a cloud of interstellar gas, principally hydrogen, lit from within by young hot stars, that ionise the gas around them. (I guess every young and hot being in this universe has the ionisation tendency). As the atoms of the gas recombine, they emit visible light.

Close up of the Nebula.

The tarantula nebula has an apparent magnitude of 8, and apparently, that’s a lot of magnitude in nebula terms. It is a supposed to cover a distance of 160,000 light years. Let’s get this straight. A single beam of light takes this many years to reach from one end of this nebula to the another. Wow! If a ray of light starts it’s journey today, my great great great great grandson would probably witness the completion of it’s journey. It is an extremely luminous non stellar object. It is so big that, had it been as close to earth as the Orion nebula, it would have cast visible shadows, and the orion nebula is 1344 lightyears away. That’s how big it is.

Star Formation

It is one of the most active starburst regions in the Local Group of galaxies. It is also one of the most largest HII regions here, with an average diameter of 200 to 570 parsec (one parsec is 31 trillion kilometres). Now, a starburst is an astrophysical process that involves star formation occurring at a rate that s large compared to the rate, that is typically observed. The starburst activity absorbs the interstellar gas supply, consume within a time that is much shorter than the lifespan of the galaxy. This tarantula nebula is one of the largest starburst regions in the local group. The starburst can either be local or galaxy wide depending on the galaxies and how they are merge in.

The Starburst.

Star Clusters

30 Doradus has at its centre the star cluster NGC 2070 which includes the compact concentration of stars known as R136 that produces most of the energy that makes the nebula visible. The estimated mass of the cluster is 450,000 solar masses, suggesting it will likely become a globular cluster in the future. In addition to NGC 2070, the Tarantula Nebula contains a number of other star clusters including the much older Hodge 301. The most massive stars of Hodge 301 have already exploded in supernovae.

The Supernova 1987A, the closet Supernova observed since the invention of telescope occurred in the outskirts of this nebula. This complex structure holds many other such supernovae within itself, Not only that, probably, many other mysteries as well, that are yet to be discovered.

The Hubble will be back in a few days. Stay tuned.

References: Planetary Nebulae and How to Observe Them by Martin Griffiths

Edwin Hubble: Mariner of the Nebulae by Gale Christianson




A PicturePenner Original Series

Developed by Krantik Das

© 2020 PicturePenner

66 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All