The Tarantula Nebula NGC 2070

Facts about NGC 2070, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, and images of this nearby star-forming region.

NGC2070 aka Tarantula Nebula in NB Filters by Haim Huli, Kibutz Ramat Hakovesh, Israel. Equipment: ASA 12

The Tarantula Nebula, NGC 2070, is one of the closest galaxies to the Milky Way and is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own.

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The nebula is 1,000 lightyears across and is produced by cosmic gas and dust being lit up by radiation from high concentrations of massive stars known as super star clusters.

A lack of intervening dust between the nebula and Earth makes it a good region for astronomers who want to study it to learn more about star formation.

This, combined with the nebula’s proximity, also make it a great target for astrophotographers, who can easily resolve individual stars and capture the dark wisps of dust and filaments of glowing gas that led early astronomers to dub NGC 2070 the Tarantula Nebula.

Spitzer's spectacular view of the Tarantula Nebula. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/B. Brandl (Cornell & University of Leiden)
Spitzer’s spectacular view of the Tarantula Nebula. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/B. Brandl (Cornell & University of Leiden)

The young star cluster NGC 2070, which is associated with the nebula and gives it its formal designation, can be seen as the brightest region in images of the Tarantula Nebula.

It is thought to host about 500,000 stars and its centre contains stars that measure 100 times the mass of the Sun.

These stars are blasting out cavities in the surrounding cosmic material with ultraviolet light, creating the multi-textured deep-sky target beloved of many astrophotographers.

Those of us old enough to remember may also be aware that on the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula lies SN 1987a, which was a supernova spotted in 1987 that glowed with the power of 100 million Suns over a period of months.

A closeup of the Tarantula Nebula, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA, ESA
A closeup of the Tarantula Nebula, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA, ESA

Below is a selection of images of the Tarantula Nebula captured by astrophotographers and BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers from around the world.

For advice on photographing nebulae, read our guide to deep-sky astrophotography or our top tips for deep-sky image processing.

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And don’t forget to send us your images or share them with us via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Tarantula Nebula. Credit: Sebastian Voltmer, CCDGuide.com
The Tarantula Nebula. Credit: Sebastian Voltmer, CCDGuide.com
NGC 2070 - The Tarantula Nebula by Slawomir Lipinski, Brisbane, Australia. Equipment: Teleskop Service 102mm ED, 0.8 reducer/flattener, QSI690, SkyWatcher HEQ5 PRO, Orion 50mm GuideScope, ORION StarShoot AutoGuider.
NGC 2070 – The Tarantula Nebula by Slawomir Lipinski, Brisbane, Australia. Equipment: Teleskop Service 102mm ED, 0.8 reducer/flattener, QSI690, SkyWatcher HEQ5 PRO, Orion 50mm GuideScope, ORION StarShoot AutoGuider.
Tarantula Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: SW 200p, Canon T1i, Astronik CLS CCD clip filter.
Tarantula Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: SW 200p, Canon T1i, Astronik CLS CCD clip filter.
Tarantula Nebula by Mike O'Day, UK. Equipment: Orion Optics CT12 Newtonian, ASA 2
Tarantula Nebula by Mike O’Day, UK. Equipment: Orion Optics CT12 Newtonian, ASA 2″ Coma Corrector Quattro 1.175x, Skywatcher AZ Eq6, TSOAG9 Off-Axis-Guider, Starlight Xpress Lodestar X2, PHD2, Nikon D5300
NGC 2070 by Paul Albers, Mount Martha, Victoria, Australia. Equipment: William Optics FLT110, QHY9 Mono CCD.
NGC 2070 by Paul Albers, Mount Martha, Victoria, Australia. Equipment: William Optics FLT110, QHY9 Mono CCD.
In Tarantula’s Clutches by Maicon Germiniani, Serra Alta-Santa, Catarina-Brazil. Equipment: TS 115/800, ZWO ASI 1600 MONO
In Tarantula’s Clutches by Maicon Germiniani, Serra Alta-Santa, Catarina-Brazil. Equipment: TS 115/800, ZWO ASI 1600 MONO
Tarantula Nebula - NGC2070 in HaRGB by Haim Huli, Kibutz Ramat Hakovesh, Israel. Equipment: ASA 12'' F3.6 Astrograph, ASA DDM85, FLI 8300 Mono
Tarantula Nebula – NGC2070 in HaRGB by Haim Huli, Kibutz Ramat Hakovesh, Israel. Equipment: ASA 12” F3.6 Astrograph, ASA DDM85, FLI 8300 Mono
NGC2070 aka Tarantula Nebula in NB Filters by Haim Huli, Kibutz Ramat Hakovesh, Israel. Equipment: ASA 12
NGC2070 aka Tarantula Nebula in NB Filters by Haim Huli, Kibutz Ramat Hakovesh, Israel. Equipment: ASA 12″, Mount ASA DDM85, FLI 8300 Mono
The Tarantula Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: 80mm F/5 Triplet APO, QHY9m, 36mm Baader filters.
The Tarantula Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: 80mm F/5 Triplet APO, QHY9m, 36mm Baader filters.
Tarantula Nebula by Fernando Oliveira De Menezes, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Equipment: TS 80mm 6 elements F4, Asi 174mm.
Tarantula Nebula by Fernando Oliveira De Menezes, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Equipment: TS 80mm 6 elements F4, Asi 174mm.
NGC 2070 by Steve Dean, Isle of Wight. Equipment: G12 Telescope (GRAS).
NGC 2070 by Steve Dean, Isle of Wight. Equipment: G12 Telescope (GRAS).