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Captured: The Spider In The Sky

Captured: The Spider In The Sky

By Catherine Scullion

The recent release of the most detailed image of the spectacular Tarantula Nebula provides a beautiful view of some cosmic history.

The image was produced using the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Wide Field Imager on the 2.2-m ESO/MPG Telescope at La Silla in Chile. The subject is truly amazing. The name is the result of the arrangement of a central cluster of hot stars as a ‘body’ to which other bright stars appear to contribute ‘legs.’ It is the largest emission Nebula in the sky and if located in the Milky Way, rather than our neighbouring Magellanic Cloud galaxy, would be visible during daylight hours.

Some of the more impressive features of the stellar giant include SN1987A, the brightest supernova since that observed by Kepler in 1604, and an intriguing Honeycomb Nebula. The intricate shaping of the latter is the result of many years of interaction between supernova dust and strong winds formed by the powerful cosmic explosions.

The creation of the picture is part of the ESOs ongoing study of dark clouds – enormous, low temperature structures, formed from gas and dust, wherein stars are born. Four filters were used separately and the images then combined to produce high quality (256 million pixels).

Cosmic bodies have fascinated humankind throughout the history of our species; this spidery giant is well worth a look, even for the arachnophobics among you.

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Find out more about Cartherine and read more of here articles here.

To delve deeper into the final frontier, look at these other spaced out articles:

- Interesting - Space: Planet-tastic
- Yummy - Hungry Hole scoffs star
- Spoof - The Galactic Sarnie
- Pack your bags - On offer: A trip to mars

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26 Jul 2009
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