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Astronomers hunt for stars inside the Tarantula Nebula

17 Jan 2018, 12:02 UTC
Astronomers hunt for stars inside the Tarantula Nebula
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The LMC is the third-closest galaxy to the Milky Way 163 thousand light years away. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScl
To get the full story of the life of a star, astronomers need to observe different stars are different points in their lives. This includes when a star isn’t even born yet, so just the cloud of gas and dust it’s birthed from, to a star on the verge of a final supernova explosion. To observe the former, NASA’s airborne observatory, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy – or SOFIA – set to the skies to observe the Tarantula Nebula. The Tarantula nebula is a star-forming region, consisting of vast amounts of gas and dust, located within the Large Magellanic Cloud – or LMC.
Michael Gordon of the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics led his team of researchers, also from the same institute, as they flew aboard SOFIA in the hunt for stellar nurseries. More specifically, they wanted to identify and characterise the brightness, ages and dust content of three young star-forming regions in the LMC.
“The Large Magellanic Cloud has always been an interesting and excellent laboratory for massive star formation,” says Gordon. “The chemical properties of star-forming regions in the LMC ...

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