Photo in the News: Tarantula Nebula Emerges in Detail

Image: Tarantula Nebula
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April 7, 2006—This leggy beauty harbors more than 200 massive stars in her brood. And there's more to come—new stars appear to be popping out all over this thousand-light-year-wide star nursery.

Released today by the European Southern Observatory, this image emphasizes the Tarantula Nebula's luminosity and spidery shape—both whipped into being by the intense radiation and winds of the superhot star cluster at the picture's center.

At 170,000 light-years away, the nebula hangs above one of the closest galaxies to our own. Though near enough, big enough, and bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, the Tarantula Nebula looks best through a large telescope—in this case, the Very Large Telescope, actually a cluster of four 8-meter-wide (26-foot-wide) telescopes in the Chile's Atacama Desert.

(See photos of the Atacama Desert.)

—Ted Chamberlain

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