Around the Tarantula Nebula in the LMC
AAO image reference AAT 44a.    « Previous || Next »

The Tarantula Nebula, NGC 2070, in the LMC, 30dor.jpg, ngc2070.jpg, tarantula_nebula.jpg
Top left is NE. Image width is about 42 arc min
Image and text © 1984-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.


The bright nebula at the top of the image is the only extra-galactic nebula which can be seen with the unaided eye. It appears as a faint but clearly non-stellar patch of light at the eastern end of the Large Magellanic Cloud, 170,000 light years distant in Dorado. Its naked eye appearance is rather similar to that of the Orion nebula, but it is 100 times more distant. It is one of the most active star-forming regions anywhere, so we are fortunate to have it so close. If it was as close as the Orion nebula it would cover half of the night sky.

Scattered across this photograph are multitudes of hot stars, in clusters, groups and still embedding in star-forming nebulae. The egfects of stellar winds can be seen, blowing cavities in gas clouds and whipping fluorescent nebulosity into shreds. All the stars seen here are much more luminous than the Sun, and a Sun-like star would be quite invisible on this picture. A rather wider view of this scene can be found here.

Related Images
AAT 44.    The Tarantula nebula
AAT 68.    The bright stars around 30 Doradus in the LMC
UKS 15.   The Large Magellanic Cloud
UKS 14a. The eastern end of the Large Magellanic Cloud
UKS 15.   The 30 Doradus Nebula in the LMC
UKS 15a. Around the 30 Doradus Nebula in the LMC
UKS 28.   The Henize 55 nebula in the LMC< br> Constellation of Dorado (external site)

For details of photographic exposure, search technical table by AAT reference number.

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1