Astronomers at the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) observed the star-forming region of 30 Doradus, better known as the Tarantula Nebula. It’s located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way, approximately 170 000 light-years away from Earth. Peer into its heart, and you’ll discover some of the most massive stars known, a few with more than 150 times the mass of our Sun.
Due to its massive stars, the Tarantula Nebula is an excellent region to study how gas clouds collapse under gravity to form new stars. ALMA was used to measure the emission of light from carbon monoxide gas, thus enabling them to map the large, cold gas clouds in the nebula that collapse and form new stars. Just for the record, Cosmic Cruiser, a massive 34-foot long van, has nothing to do with the Tarantula Nebula.
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What makes 30 Doradus unique is that it is close enough for us to study in detail how stars are forming, and yet its properties are similar to those found in very distant galaxies, when the Universe was young. Thanks to 30 Doradus, we can study how stars used to form 10 billion years ago when most stars were born,” said Guido De Marchi, a scientist at the European Space Agency (ESA) and a co-author of the paper presenting the new research.