Changing Planet

Hubble Spies Tarantula Star Factory

Like lifting a giant veil, the near-infrared vision of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope uncovers a dazzling new view deep inside the Tarantula Nebula. Hubble reveals a glittering treasure trove of more than 800,000 stars and protostars embedded inside the nebula. Credit: NASA, ESA, and E. Sabbi (STScI)

Spidey senses tingling yet? The Hubble Space Telescope provides a never-before-seen, panoramic portrait of the innards of the creepy Tarantula Nebula, a monster star factory filled with some 800,000 sparkling newborn stars sitting about 170,000 light-years from Earth.

The cosmic arachnoid, also known as Doradus 30, stretches across roughly 600 light-years in space. It is nestled within the Large Magellanic Cloud, the largest satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.

Using the orbiting observatory’s exquisitely sensitive near-infrared vision, astronomers were able to create a mosaic that was stitched together from 438 individual snapshots of the nebula. That allowed them to peer through the nebula’s weblike veil of clouds and dust to catch a glimpse of a cluster of stars in the process of hatching.

“Because of the mosaic’s exquisite detail and sheer breadth, we can follow how episodes of star birth migrate across the region in space and time,” said Elena Sabbi, principal investigator of the observing team, and an astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, in a NASA statement.

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter and Facebook.

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.
  • Reid Barnes

    This article says, the Hubble Space Telescope “allowed them to peer through the nebula’s weblike veil of clouds and dust to catch a glimpse of a cluster of stars in the process of hatching.” Is it accurate or correct terminology to call matter that is in a plasma state clouds and dust? Dust and clouds are composed essentially of stable atoms; plasma is composed of parts of atoms in an ionized state. Is relativity causing us to cling to a gravitational model for galaxy formation and to neglect the prospects of a plasma physics model? See the Facebook Note, Are We Ready for a Galaxy Formation Paradigm Shift?:

  • Andrea

    This may seem like a silly question but, what is the exact purpose of a star?

  • Sarah Arnold

    Even words can’t tell how beautiful this photo is.

  • IAN

    Simply amazing. Why? Why create all this? O r even if only by chance – why? What is the purpose of it all?

  • kev kent

    what will all the religious nutters do now , the truth is out there GOD did not make the heavens and the earth .

  • Sarah Arnold

    Kev,God did create heavens and earth,why don’t you believe that?

  • Harsha

    can anyone tel me how could u connect to a live space observatory online? i mean is there any official website to do that like google earth??? I just wanted to navigate myself thro the space and its elements??

  • Harsha

    is there any website to connect directly to the space obsrvatory ??? i mean colud we connect to the any type of telescope online just like google earth ?? apparently i wanted to knw this because its more intersting to navigate by urself through urself??

  • Katinky

    What a gorgeous photo! In answer to some of these comments here, in the book of Genesis, it clearly states that God created “worlds”. Yes, Sarah…I’m afraid there are more unbeliever’s today, than believer’s. Man continuously wants signs & miracles for proof. One day soon, He will come again, in ALL of His glory. Still, it is great to be able to see these beautiful worlds outside of our galaxy, and to find them hidden within our galaxy! Thank-you NASA, for your ongoing discoveries.


    ITS COOL I <3 IT

  • Nelly Tolbert

    This photo is absolutely majestic! It just shows how much we don’t know about what could be out there.

  • Anacaren

    Sarah is so right,even words can’t tell.

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