The Tarantula Nebula, also known as “30 Doradus” is located 160,000 light years away in the “Large Megallanic Cloud”- a Satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. It has a mass of a million suns and is over 1800 light years in Diameter, making it the largest known emission nebulae. It is also one of the brightest objects in the universe. It is so bright that if it was located only a few thousand light years away from Earth, it would “cast visible shadows”! This Nebula is the the most active region of star formation in the Local Group of galaxies.
At the centre of the Nebula is a star cluster called “NGC 2070”, which has an estimated mass of 450,000 suns. This star cluster includes a compact concentration of stars called “R136”. The stars in R136 produce the most amount of energy and are responsible for the brightness and visibility of the nebula. The Tarantula Nebula is also home to the “Hodge 301” star cluster. The star cluster is extremely old and most of the massive stars in the cluster have already exploded into supernovae.
On February 24, 1987, Supernova 1987A occurred in the Tarantula Nebula, which was the closest supernova ever observed since Kepler’s invention of the Telescope.