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)

 

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation's largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

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Taken on May 3, 2010