Tarantula Nebula

Designation: 30 Doradus
Hemisphere: Southern
Constellation: Dorado
Distance: 170,000 light years
Object type: H-II region / Emission Nebula


The Tarantula Nebula is an extremely luminous H-II region, located some 170,000 light years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a dwarf galaxy orbiting the Milky Way. It so bright that “if it were as close to Earth as the Orion Nebula, the Tarantula Nebula would be visible during the day and cover a quarter of the sky” (Source: ESA).

The Nebula consists of a cloud of interstellar gas, mainly hydrogen, lit from within by young, hot stars that ionize the gas around them. It is in fact a region of intense star formation, one most active starburst region known in the Local Group of galaxies, and one of the largest, spanning some 600 light years across.

The nebula hosts R136, a “starburst” region where massive stars form in extremely close proximity, and at a rate far higher than in the rest of the galaxy, and 1987A, one of astronomy’s most-studied supernova, which burned with the power of 100 million Suns for months. In the image are also visible several star clusters and emission nebulas (see below).

Acquisition details

Total integration time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Acquisition software: AUS-2 (Telescope Live)
Processing software: PixInsight
Location: Australia

Full size image

Where the universe begins…