From the 2Mass Image Gallery
The Tarantula or 30 Doradus Nebula (NGC 2070), in the Large Magellanic Cloud, is the closest example of a giant ionized hydrogen (H II) region, and is several hundred parsecs in diameter. The closest analog in our Milky Way Galaxy is the H II region NGC 3603. 30 Doradus serves as a "Rosetta Stone" for massive starbursts of this kind in galaxies at larger distances from us. Clusters of hundreds of young, massive O and B stars, particularly the dense central "super star" cluster, R136, provide the ultraviolet photons which ionize and photoevaporate the large filamentary cloud. Several other stellar populations, including red supergiants and Wolf-Rayet stars, coexist in 30 Doradus. Detailed studies in the optical of the nebula and its stellar contents shows a complex history of recent star formation. Pre-main-sequence objects are also found, particularly along the Ks-bright molecular hydrogen (H2) line-emitting filaments in the nebula's periphery, which can be seen in the 2MASS image. What emerges is a scenario of new generations of stars triggered by the energy input from the massive stellar clusters, which is likely a characteristic picture for star-forming regions of this scale in galaxies. Image mosaic by E. Kopan (IPAC).
The images are three-band composites constructed from 2MASS Atlas Images. They are infrared images and therefore must be mapped into false colors: J light (1.2 µm) into blue, H light (1.6 µm) in green, and Ks light (2.2 µm) into red. The Atlas Images are produced in the 2MASS Production Processing System. North is up and east is to the left.
This text is based on accompanying on-line materials.
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Last Modified On: Saturday, December 16, 2000