View Full Version : Tarantula for Bindi

10-11-08, 07:39 PM

The Trantula Nebula
Just one glance at this incredible visage is enough to make you do a double take. This intricate net of nebular mists is known as 30 Doradus, or even more commonly as the "Tarantula", but no space spider created this web. No, sir. What spun out these gossamer strands of HII silk is one of the largest and most active star forming regions known to our local galaxy group…
When Nicolas Louis de Lacaille first saw it in 1751 through his half-inch spyglass, he knew it was something different. He wrote down that it was nebular in nature, without stars and said; "It resembles the nucleus of a small comet." Too bad he didn't realize what he was really looking at, for Lacaille was a huge fan of all things science. What he couldn't see with his primitive telescope (http://www.universetoday.com/guide-to-space/telescopes/) is there really is a cluster of stars at the heart of this web… A very compact cluster stars known as R136a. And in its midst? Twelve stars… twelve very massive and luminous stars almost exclusively of spectral type O3. Even at a distance of 180,000 light years these stars light up this nebula so brightly that if it were as close to Earth (http://www.universetoday.com/guide-to-space/earth/) as the Orion Nebula, it would cast shadows on the night.
So what else lay hidden in the 1000 light year expanse of the cosmic web? Look beyond what you can see in visible light and think like a spider… Try infra-red. With the eyes of the Spitzer Space Telescope aimed towards NGC 2070, scientists could penetrate the dust clouds throughout the Tarantula to reveal previously hidden sites of star formation. Within the luminescent nebula, holes began to appear. These voids are created by highly energetic winds spewing out from the massive stars in the central star cluster. Like the intricate designs woven by the spider, the structures at the edges of these voids are particularly interesting. Dense pillars of gas and dust, sculpted by the stellar radiation, will be the birthplace of future generations of stars!
But like the spider web… It's a place of death, too.
In 1987 one of the closest supernova events ever to occur near Earth happened in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula. The light from the supernova reached Earth on February 23, 1987 and not.since 1604 had humankind been witness to such an event. Even though we were witnessing something that occurred 168,000 years in the past, those X-ray and radio emission were still just as bright as the day the highly energetic electrons and particles spewed into the interstellar medium upon the explosive death of the progenitor star. Oh, there is skeletons in the web, too. Older and weaker supernovae remnants are scattered about, their signatures as faint as the imprint of a fallen leaf that has long blown away. This "Cosmic Web" is home to many supergiant stars. At any moment, a snapshot of any dense region of supergiant stars will show a mixture of newborn stars and supernovae, the signature of stars who those that have lived fast and died young.

11-11-08, 01:39 AM
Cool, Meat. Thanks. I love this kind of stuff. I may not understand a lot of it, but looking at things out in the universe id so interesting. The universe can be such a scary place, but it can also be a beautiful place as well.

11-11-08, 08:39 AM
The universe a violent place that is constantly trying to kill us. Coronal Mass Ejections, gamma ray bursts...the energy is so great its hard to imagine.

In a gamma ray burst a dying star can eject energy equivelnt to what our sun gives off in its entire lifetime but 10 times larger.

Now compress that in 2 minutes.

Its so bright, its so powerful, for a brief moment it outshine the light produced by the entire galaxy.

This can destroy object millions of light years away.

Because I live in a metroplois I cannot see any stars or the milky way at night.

But in the summer I visited relatives in the countryside and one night I went on the front porch and started at the sky.

It hard to imagine that those small beautiful bright dots - little stars are actually huge suns like ours and bigger that can explode and wreak havoc on their surrondings.

Just like on earth the universe is dynamic, they sky is constantly chaning all the time although we cannot notice it.

Bad things happen and eventually all will fucking die. Even your beautiful tarantula.

But this doesn't make me sad.

What really makes me sad is how "modern" humans have complete disregard for our planet. Its the only place we can live comfortably in the known universe and we are are destroying it.

A recent study by WWF says that if we continue like this, humanity will need another planet in 2030.