Back to Main Page
Back to Nebulae   

NGC 2070
The Tarantula Nebula
Imaged by Martin S. Ferlito copyright
Gstar-EX Integrating Video Camera
8" Schmidt-Cassegrain on Vixen GP Mount, Stepper Driven.


Discovered by Lacaille in 1751.
The Tarantula Nebula NGC 2070 was first cataloged as a star, 30 Doradus. It was recognized to be a nebula by Abbe Lacaille on December 5, 1751.
The name "Tarantula" is most commonly used for this object, but Mark R. Chartrand, in his Skyguide, also gives reference to the

names "Great Looped Nebula" (probably for its appearance) and "True Lovers' Knot"; "Looped Nebula" goes back to John Herschel.
The Tarantula Nebula has an apparent magnitude of 8. Considering its distance of about 180,000 light years, this is an extremely luminous non-stellar object. Its luminosity is so great that if it were as close to Earth as the Orion Nebula, the Tarantula Nebula would cast shadows. In fact, it is the most active starburst region known in the Local Group of galaxies. It is also the largest such region in the Local Group with an estimated diameter of 200 pc.[3] The nebula resides on the leading edge of the LMC, where ram pressure stripping, and the compression of the interstellar medium likely resulting from this, is at a maximum. At its core lies the compact star cluster R136 (approx diameter 35 light years)[4] 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.[5]
In addition to R136, the Tarantula Nebula also contains an older star cluster—catalogued as Hodge 301—with an age of 20–25 million years. The most massive stars of this cluster have already exploded in supernovae.[6]
The closest supernova observed since the invention of the telescope, Supernova 1987A, occurred in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula.


 

Make a Free Website with Yola.