The Tarantula nebula also known as 30 Doradus was captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope on the Near Infrared Camera also known as the NIRCam. This dazzling image showcases thousands of never seen before stars. Nicknamed the Tarantula Nebula due to its dusty tendrils and uncanny resemblance to earth’s resident tarantula nests of silk webbing.
30 Doradus is a long time favourite of astronomers studying star formations in that it bares a similar chemical composition to the huge star forming regions observed at the universe’s “Cosmic Noon” when the cosmos was only a meagre billion years old and star formation was at its all time high.
In addition to young stars this nebula reveals distant background galaxies, detailed structures and composition of the nebula’s gas and dust. You will find the tarantula nebula 161,000 light-years away in the large magellanic cloud galaxy. This is the largest and brightest star forming sector in the local group galaxies nearest to our Milky Way. Star forming in our Milky Way does not even come close the the furious rate as The Tarantula Nebula which is also home to some of the hottest and largest stars that we have discovered.
The NASA’s Tarantula Nebula Creation
Within the tarantulas nebula only the densest regions can resist the erosion caused by these massive stars’ powerful winds and in the process forming butte-like pillars that point towards the back of the nebula. These pillars contain protostars which will emerge eventually from their dusty cocoons to take their place within the nebula. The massive cavity viewed in the centre of the nebula has a nest of pale blue stars that have eroded the massive cavity within the nebula due to the ferocious radiation produced.
The brightest star we can see in this unique image is R136A1, a star with 170 to 230 times the mass of our own sun! First thought to be a much older star but upon further observation it was revealed to be a young star.
The Astronomy Opportunities
Despite the thousands of years of stargazing dating back to approximately 1000 BCE, the star formation process still holds many secrets, but most of them due to our historical inability to capture clear images of what unfolds in our universe.
Webb has created an opportunity for astronomers across the globe to study these stellar nurseries to uncover a universe never seen before and is only scratching the surface of our universe.