Tarantula Nebula and the LMC
The Tarantula Nebula is a large emission nebula located in the southern constellation Dorado. The star-forming region lies within the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way and one of the nearest galaxies to our own, located on the border between Dorado and Mensa. The nebula is also known as 30 Doradus.It has the designation NGC 2070 in the New General Catalogue. The Tarantula Nebula is one of the better known nebulae not listed in the Messier catalog,.
It is the most active region of star formation known in the Local Group of galaxies, as well as one of the largest, spanning 600 light years, or 13 arc minutes across the sky. The nebula contains more than 800,000 stars and protostars. The newly formed stars are frequently hidden within clouds of dust and can only be seen in infrared wavelengths.
The nebula is extremely luminous. It lies at a distance of 160,000 light years from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 8. Because it lies so far to the south, it is visible primarily from southern latitudes, lucky us! And If it were as close to the solar system as the Orion Nebula, the Tarantula Nebula would be so bright that it would cast shadows. The Orion Nebula, while more famous, especially in the northern hemisphere, is only a hundredth the size of 30 Doradus.
The Tarantula Nebula got its name because its glowing filaments of dust resemble the legs of a spider. It is a giant starburst region where the energy from the bright, hot young stars creates huge voids and filaments in the surrounding clouds of gas.