A panoramic view of a vast, sculpted area of gas and dust where thousands of stars are being born has been captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
The photo offers an unprecedented, detailed view of the entire inner region of the fertile, star-forming 30 Doradus Nebula. The mosaic picture shows that ultraviolet radiation and high-speed material unleashed by the stars in the cluster, called R136 (the large blue blob left of center), are weaving a tapestry of creation and destruction, triggering the collapse of looming gas and dust clouds and forming pillar-like structures that incubate newborn stars.
The 30 Doradus Nebula is in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located 170,000 light-years from Earth. Nebulas like 30 Doradus are signposts of recent star birth. High-energy ultraviolet radiation from young, hot, massive stars in R136 causes surrounding gaseous material to glow. Previous Hubble telescope observations showed that R136 contains several dozen of the most massive stars known, each about 100 times the mass of the Sun and about 10 times as hot. These stellar behemoths formed about 2 million years ago.