[Hiroshima City Asa Zoological Park, Hiroshima, Japan]
The Magellanic Cloud and Tarantula Nebula
This VISTA image shows the spectacular 30 Doradus star-forming region, also called the Tarantula Nebula. At its core is a large cluster of stars known as R 136, in which some of the most massive stars known are located. This infrared image, made with ESO’s VISTA survey telescope, is from the VISTA Magellanic Cloud Survey. The project will scan a vast area — 184 square degrees of the sky (corresponding to almost one thousand times the apparent area of the full Moon), including our nearby neighbouring galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. The end result will be a detailed study of the star formation history and three-dimensional geometry of the Magellanic system.
Celestial scribbled notes
This colour-composite image was obtained by FORS1 on ANTU. It displays a sky area near the Chamaeleon I complex of bright nebulae and hot stars in the constellation of the same name, close to the southern celestial pole. This picture was taken a few days before the Paranal Inauguration and the “hand-over” to the astronomers on April 1, 1999. This colour composite photo of the Chamaeleon I area is based on six 1-min exposures obtained with VLT UT1 + FORS1 in the V, R and I bands. The sky field measures 6.8 x 11.2 arcmin2; North is up and East is left.
The Tarantula Nebula
Located inside the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) – one of our closest galaxies – in what some describe as a frightening sight, the Tarantula nebula is worth looking at in detail. Also known as 30 Doradus or NGC 2070, the nebula owes its name to the arrangement of its bright patches that somewhat resemble the legs of a tarantula. Taking the name of one of the biggest spiders on Earth is very fitting in view of the gigantic proportions of this celestial nebula — it measures nearly 1,000 light years across ! Its proximity, the favourable inclination of the LMC, and the absence of intervening dust make this nebula one of the best laboratories to better understand the formation of massive stars. This spectacular nebula is energised by an exceptionally high concentration of massive stars, often referred to as super star clusters. This image is based on data acquired with the 1.5 m Danish telescope at the ESO La Silla Observatory in Chile, through three filters (B: 80 s, V: 60 s, R: 50 s).
The Carina Nebula, NGC 3372, is a star forming region located about 7,500 light years away towards the constellation Carina. It is over 300 light years across, one of the largest star forming regions in the Milky Way. At its center lies Eta Carinae, one of the most massive stars in the galaxy, 100 times the mass of our Sun.
Eta Carinae is at least 1 million times brighter than our Sun. It burns through its fuel quickly, sending off massive amount of radiation and stellar winds that shred the surrounding nebula. The star’s brightness has increased in the past decade, and it may explode into a supernova in less than a thousand years. Also within the Carina Nebula is the Keyhole Nebula, located very close to the Eta Carinae.
NGC 2264 - A Story about a Cone, a Fox and a Christmas Tree
A widefield view on the NGC 2264 region, which contains the Cone Nebula, the Christmas Tree Cluster, the Snowflake Cluster, and the Fox Fur Nebula. All are located within the constellation Monoceros.
The Emission Nebula
This image, captured by ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal, shows a small part of the well-known emission nebula, NGC 6357, located some 8000 light-years away, in the tail of the southern constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). The image glows with the characteristic red of an H II region, and contains a large amount of ionised and excited hydrogen gas.
The cloud is bathed in intense ultraviolet radiation — mainly from the open star cluster Pismis 24, home to some massive, young, blue stars — which it re-emits as visible light, in this distinctive red hue.
The cluster itself is out of the field of view of this picture, its diffuse light seen illuminating the cloud on the centre-right of the image. We are looking at a close-up of the surrounding nebula, showing a mesh of gas, dark dust, and newly born and still forming stars.Read more