A Hubble Space Telescope image of the R136 super star cluster, near the center of the 30 Doradus Nebula, also known as the Tarantula Nebula or NGC 2070.
The Tarantula Nebula was first observed during an expedition to the Cape of Good Hope between 1751 and 1753 by Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille. He catalogued it as the second of the “Nebulae of the First Class”, “Nebulosities not accompanied by any star visible in the telescope of two feet”.
Johann Bode later added the Tarantula Nebula in his 1801 Uranographia star atlas and listed it in the accompanying Allgemeine Beschreibung und Nachweisung der Gestirne catalogue as number 30 in the constellation “Xiphias or Dorado”.
The name Tarantula Nebula arose the mid 20th century from the appearance in deep photographic exposures.
Image source: NASA, ESA, F. Paresce (INAF-IASF, Bologna, Italy), R. O’Connell (University of Virginia, Charlottesville), and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee – http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2009/32/image/a/ (direct link)
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