Hubble reveals a glittering treasure trove of more than 800,000 stars and protostars embedded inside the nebula.
These observations were obtained as part of the Hubble Tarantula Treasury Program.
When complete, the program will produce a large catalog of stellar properties, which will allow astronomers to study a wide range of important topics related to star formation.
This near-infrared view reveals newly formed stars that are often embedded in clouds of dust, and only the near-infrared light can pass through these clouds.
Also known as 30 Doradus, the Tarantula Nebula is a raucous region of star birth that resides 170,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small, satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.
Because it contains the nearest observable super-cluster of stars, the nebula is a nearby laboratory for seeing close-up a firestorm of star birth that was much more common in the early universe.
Hubble can resolve individual stars and many red protostars as well as aging red giants and supergiants, giving astronomers new insights into the stars' birth and evolution.
Star formation in the Tarantula Nebula started tens of millions of years ago, though it was not confined to a specific region. Instead, as enough gas accumulated, pockets of star birth burst to life erratically, like the finale of a fireworks show.
The results have been published in the Astronomical Journal.
--ANI (Posted on 10-01-2014)