Tarantula Nebula photos in unprecedented detail

The Tarantula Nebula is located only 161,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. Although the soft swirls of clouds give off a sense of serenity, the Tarantula Nebula is actually one of the largest and most violent star-forming regions in our Local Group.

The Local Group is essentially our galactic region, of which the Milky Way is a part. The oldest member of the group is Andromeda Galaxywhile sharp eyes (under a dark and clear sky) may also be able to detect the farthest Triangle Galaxy, thanks to its relatively bright apparent size. Dozens of smaller dwarf galaxies are also members of the Local Group.

This stunning mosaic image, viewed by the JWST Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam), spans across 340 light-years, although the nebula’s overall width is More than 1000 light years. The nebula is named after the web-like appearance of its dusty bristles seen in previous images, with the cavity in the center resembling the home of a hiding tarantula, lined with silk.

Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the Tarantula Nebula was imaged in unprecedented detail with the JWST Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) © NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team

The nebula is a hotbed of some of the hottest and most massive stars known to astronomers, and in the middle, sparkling blue with young, massive stars, is star cluster R136, its most active region.

“R136 is in the middle of the largest cluster called NGC2070,” says Professor Mark McCogrenSenior Adviser for Science and Exploration at the European Space Agency (ESA).

“R136 is a giant group of young stars, far exceeding anything in our Milky Way, with approximately half a million solar masses. It has often been suggested that it may be a proto-globular cluster, and its massive accumulative brightness is what illuminates the Tarantula Nebula, whose image appears The new JWST is only a small part of it,” McCurren explains.

The blistering radiation removed the dusty cocoons that had surrounded these protostars. Only the densest materials left behind, carved into columns and ledges, are able to withstand the erosion of these gale-force stellar winds.

Within these columns are more newly formed protostars. They, too, will eventually emerge from their cosmic cocoons and take their part in forming the nebula.

“The JWST image of the Tarantula nebula was made using mosaics made through four separate infrared filters, F090W, F200W, F335M, and F444W, at 0.9, 2.0, 3.35, and 4.44 μm, respectively,” McGreen says.

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“The first, second, and fourth filters are all broadband, and capture a lot of starlight and nebula emissions. The third, the F335M filter, isolates an important emission line for Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbonsPowerful dust tracker.

The Tarantula Nebula as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope | © NASA, ESA, and E. Sabbi/STScI

“The color coding in the image is F090W in blue, F200W in green, F335M in orange, and F444W in red. The last two filters make the dust in the area appear to glow orange-red. Hubble Images, these areas are dark,” McGreen explains.

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