Astronomers capture spectacular new Tarantula Nebula image with VISTA

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Washington, Aug 12 (ANI): A spectacular new image has been captured by astronomers in a region of our neighbouring galaxy known to have an abnormally high rate of star formation that reveals yet more details about its history and development.

The picture, taken with the UK-designed and built VISTA telescope, is of the Tarantula Nebula, a region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which contains many stars that can be difficult to detect because they are enshrouded in the gas and dust clouds from which they formed.

Astronomers were able to take the image by using ESO's VISTA (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) telescope because it can pick up near infrared light, which we cannot see ourselves, that has a longer wavelength of visible light, enabling it to penetrate much of the dust that would normally obscure our view.

The leader of the survey team, Maria-Rosa Cioni (University of Hertfordshire, UK) explains: "This view is of one of the most important regions of star formation in the local Universe - the spectacular 30 Doradus star-forming region, also called the Tarantula Nebula. At its core is a large cluster of stars called RMC 136, in which some of the most massive stars known are located."

The wide-field image shows a host of different objects. The bright area above the center is the Tarantula Nebula itself, with the RMC 136 cluster of massive stars in its core. To the left is the NGC 2100 star cluster. To the right is the tiny remnant of the supernova SN1987A.

Below the center are a series of star-forming regions including NGC 2080 -- nicknamed the "Ghost Head Nebula"-and the NGC 2083 star cluster.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC's) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory led on the development of the camera; STFC's UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UKATC) manages the VISTA project.

Professor Ian Robson, Head of UKATC said; "We are very proud of the wealth of data that the VISTA telescope is producing for the astronomical community; the spectacular images are not only telling us about new science, but look absolutely fantastic." (ANI)

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