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Tarantula Nebula

30 Doradus, Looped Nebula, C103, NGC 2070
Contains the 30 Doradus Cluster, also designated NGC 2070

Proper NamesTarantula Nebula, Looped Nebula, 30 Doradus Nebula and Cluster
Caldwell NumberC103
NGC/IC NumberNGC 2070
Right Ascension5h 38m 42s
Declination-69° 6' 0"
Distancec.159,800 light years
c.49,000 parsecs
MagnitudeApparent: +5.0
Absolute: -13.4
DimensionsApparent: 40'x25'
Actual diameter: 1,800 light years
Optimum VisibilityDecember / January (Usually visible from southern latitudes)

A vast cloud of ionised hydrogen (that is, an 'H II region') within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. The nebula, the largest in a complex of nebulae and clusters in the Cloud, stretches some 600 light years from edge to edge, with tendrils of matter extending from the main body that give it a vaguely spider-like appearance, hence the common name Tarantula for the nebula.

The Tarantula Nebula is highly active star-forming region, indeed one of the most active such structures known. It contains a number of clusters that have formed within the nebula, most notably a dense and relatively young cluster in the heart of the nebula that shares the designation NGC 2070 with the nebula itself. Within this cluster is one of the most massive stars known, R136a1, which has more than three hundred times the mass of the Sun. Other clusters are older, showing the life cycle of stars from their formation to their cataclysmic ends, with evidence of several supernovae having taken place within the nebula.


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