Photo: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/L.Townsley et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI; Infrared: NASA/JPL/PSU/L.Townsley et al.

Tarantula Nebula

In celebration of the 22nd anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope on April 24, 1990, NASA has released this stunning new image of the Tarantula Nebula, also known as 30 Doradus.


Located about 160,000 light-years from Earth, 30 Doradus is one of the largest, brightest and most prolific star nurseries in the Milky Way. It's so bright that if it were as close to the Earth as the Orion Nebula — located 1,500 light-years away — it would fill up a space equivalent to 60 moons in our night sky and would also cast shadows on the surface of the planet.


The image was created using all three of NASA's major observatories — the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. The green-colored wisps recorded by Hubble, represent the light that is emitted from stars undergoing different stages of development. Gases that have been heated to millions of degrees by supernova explosions and stellar winds, seen in blue, were detected through X-rays observed by Chandra. Finally, the red clouds of gas and dust were captured using infrared emission data from Spitzer.


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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.