Tarantula Nebula

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Tarantula Nebula
Emission nebula
H II region
Tarantula Nebula TRAPPIST.jpg
The Tarantula Nebula, first light image of the TRAPPIST national telescope at La Silla Observatory
Credit: TRAPPIST/E. Jehin/ESO
Observation data: J2000 epoch
Right ascension 05h 38m 38s[1]
Declination −69° 05.7′[1]
Distance 160 ± 10 k ly   (49 ± 3[2][3] k pc)
Apparent magnitude (V) +8[2]
Apparent dimensions (V) 40′ × 25′[2]
Constellation Dorado
Physical characteristics
Radius 300 ly
Absolute magnitude (V) ~ −11.7
Notable features In LMC
Designations NGC 2070,[2] Doradus Nebula,[1] Dor Nebula,[1] 30 Doradus
See also: Lists of nebulae

The Tarantula Nebula (also known as 30 Doradus) is an H II region in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).


The brilliant stars in the Tarantula Nebula are unleashing a torrent of ultraviolet light and stellar winds that are etching away at the hydrogen gas cloud in which the stars were born.

The Tarantula Nebula was observed by Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille during an expedition to the Cape of Good Hope 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.[4]

Johann Bode included the Tarantula in his 1801 Uranographia star atlas and listed it in the accompanying Allgemeine Beschreibung und Nachweisung der Gestirne catalogue as number 30 in the constellation "Xiphias or Dorado". Instead of being given a stellar magnitude, it was noted to be nebulous.[5]

The name Tarantula Nebula arose the mid 20th century from the appearance in deep photographic exposures.[6]

30 Doradus has often been treated as the designation of a star,[7][8] or of the central star cluster NGC 2070,[9] but is now generally treated as referring to the whole nebula area of the Tarantula Nebula.[10][11]


The Tarantula Nebula has an apparent magnitude of 8. Considering its distance of about 49 kpc[2] (160,000 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 visible shadows.[12] In fact it is the most active starburst region known in the Local Group of galaxies. It is also one of the largest such regions 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.

NGC 2070[edit]

30 Doradus has at its centre the star cluster NGC 2070 which includes the compact concentration of stars known as R136[13] 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.[14] 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.[15]

Supernova 1987A[edit]

The closest supernova observed since the invention of the telescope,[16] Supernova 1987A, occurred in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula.[17] There is a prominent supernova remnant enclosing the open cluster NGC 2060, but the remnants of many other supernovae are difficult to detect in the complex nebulosity.[18]

Image gallery[edit]

The young cluster RMC 136a

Coordinates: Sky map 05h 38m 38s, −69° 5.7′ 0″


  1. ^ a b c d "SIMBAD Astronomical Database". Results for Tarantula Nebula. Retrieved 2006-12-22. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "SEDS Students for the Exploration and Development of Space". Results for Tarantula Nebula. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 30 Doradus .. 49 kpc +- 3 kpc 
  3. ^ a b Lebouteiller, V.; Bernard-Salas, J.; Brandl, B.; Whelan, D. G.; et al. (June 2008). "Chemical Composition and Mixing in Giant H II Regions: NGC 3603, 30 Doradus, and N66". The Astrophysical Journal. 680 (1): 398–419. arXiv:0710.4549Freely accessible. Bibcode:2008ApJ...680..398L. doi:10.1086/587503. 
  4. ^ Jones, K. G. (1969). "The search for the nebulae - VI". Journal of the British Astronomical Association. 79: 213. Bibcode:1969JBAA...79..213J. 
  5. ^ Johann Elert Bode (1801). Allgemeine Beschreibung und Nachweisung der Gestirne: Nebst Verzeichniss der geraden Aufsteigung und Abweichung von 17240 Sternen, Doppelsternen, Nebelflecken und Sternhaufen:(zu dessen Uranographie gehörig). Selbstverl. pp. 1–. 
  6. ^ Feast, M. W. (1961). "A Study of the 30 Doradus Region of the Large Magellanic Cloud". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 122: 1. Bibcode:1961MNRAS.122....1F. doi:10.1093/mnras/122.1.1. 
  7. ^ Pickering, E. C.; Fleming, W. P. (1897). "Large Magellanic Cloud". Astrophysical Journal. 6: 459. Bibcode:1897ApJ.....6..459P. doi:10.1086/140426. 
  8. ^ Burnham, S. W. (1893). "New Double Stars, discovered in 1892, and measures". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 53: 273. Bibcode:1893MNRAS..53..273B. doi:10.1093/mnras/53.4.273 (inactive 2017-01-25). 
  9. ^ Andersen, M.; Zinnecker, H.; Moneti, A.; McCaughrean, M. J.; Brandl, B.; Brandner, W.; Meylan, G.; Hunter, D. (2009). "The Low-Mass Initial Mass Function in the 30 Doradus Starburst Cluster". The Astrophysical Journal. 707 (2): 1347. arXiv:0911.2755Freely accessible. Bibcode:2009ApJ...707.1347A. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/707/2/1347. 
  10. ^ Walborn, N. R. (1984). "The stellar content of 30 Doradus". IN: Structure and evolution of the Magellanic Clouds; Proceedings of the Symposium. 108: 243. Bibcode:1984IAUS..108..243W. 
  11. ^ Aguirre, J. E.; Bezaire, J. J.; Cheng, E. S.; Cottingham, D. A.; Cordone, S. S.; Crawford, T. M.; Fixsen, D. J.; Knox, L.; Meyer, S. S.; Norgaard‐Nielsen, H. U.; Silverberg, R. F.; Timbie, P.; Wilson, G. W. (2003). "The Spectrum of Integrated Millimeter Flux of the Magellanic Clouds and 30 Doradus from Top Hat and DIRBE Data". The Astrophysical Journal. 596: 273. arXiv:astro-ph/0306425Freely accessible. Bibcode:2003ApJ...596..273A. doi:10.1086/377601. 
  12. ^ http://www.noao.edu/news/2011/pr1102.php
  13. ^ Massey, P; Hunter, D. (January 1998). "Star Formation in R136: A Cluster of O3 Stars Revealed by Hubble Space Telescope Spectroscopy". The Astrophysical Journal. 493 (1): 180. Bibcode:1998ApJ...493..180M. doi:10.1086/305126. 
  14. ^ Bosch, Guillermo; Terlevich, Elena; Terlevich, Roberto (2009). "Gemini/GMOS Search for Massive Binaries in the Ionizing Cluster of 30 Dor". Astronomical Journal. 137 (2): 3437–3441. arXiv:0811.4748Freely accessible. Bibcode:2009AJ....137.3437B. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/137/2/3437. 
  15. ^ Grebel, Eva K.; Chu, You-Hua (2000). "Hubble Space Telescope Photometry of Hodge 301: An "Old" Star Cluster in 30 Doradus". Astronomical Journal. 119 (2): 787–799. arXiv:astro-ph/9910426Freely accessible. Bibcode:2000AJ....119..787G. doi:10.1086/301218. 
  16. ^ "Tarantula Nebula's Cosmic Web a Thing of Beauty". SPACE.com. 2011-03-21. Retrieved 2011-03-26. 
  17. ^ "Encyclopedia of Space". Authors: Couper,Heather; Henbest, Nigel. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  18. ^ Lazendic, J. S.; Dickel, J. R.; Jones, P. A. (2003). "Supernova Remnant Candidates in the 30 Doradus Nebula". The Astrophysical Journal. 596: 287. Bibcode:2003ApJ...596..287L. doi:10.1086/377630. 
  19. ^ "Sharper Images for VLT Infrared Camera - Adaptive optics facility extended to HAWK-I instrument". www.eso.org. Retrieved 31 January 2018. 

External links[edit]