ESO 2.2-m WFI Image of the Tarantula Nebula
NASA image release May 11, 2010
Hubble Catches Heavyweight Runaway Star Speeding from 30 Doradus
Image: ESO 2.2-m WFI Image of the Tarantula Nebula
A blue-hot star, 90 times more massive than our Sun, is hurtling across space fast enough to make a round trip from Earth to the Moon in merely two hours. Though the speed is not a record-breaker, it is unique to find a homeless star that has traveled so far from its nest. The only way the star could have been ejected from the star cluster where it was born is through a tussle with a rogue star that entered the binary system where the star lived, which ejected the star through a dynamical game of stellar pinball. This is strong circumstantial evidence for stars as massive as 150 times our Sun's mass living in the cluster. Only a very massive star would have the gravitational energy to eject something weighing 90 solar masses. The runaway star is on the outskirts of the 30 Doradus nebula, a raucous stellar breeding ground in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud. The finding bolsters evidence that the most massive stars in the local universe reside in 30 Doradus, making it a unique laboratory for studying heavyweight stars. 30 Doradus, also called the Tarantula Nebula, is roughly 170,000 light-years from Earth.
To learn more about this image go to: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/runaway-star.html
Credit: NASA/ESO, J. Alves (Calar Alto, Spain), and B. Vandame and Y. Beletski (ESO)
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