The largest, most violent star forming region known in the whole Local Group of galaxies, the cosmic arachnid sprawls across this spectacular view against the background of the dense swarm of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
The Tarantula Nebula is more than a thousand light-years in diameter, a giant star forming region within nearby satellite galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 180 thousand light-years away. Within the Tarantula (NGC 2070), intense radiation, stellar winds and supernova shocks from the central young cluster of massive stars, cataloged as R136, energize the nebular glow and shape the spidery filaments.
Around the Tarantula there are other star-forming regions with young star clusters, filaments, and blown-out bubble-shaped clouds.
The Large Magellanic Cloud is a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. At a distance of about 50 kiloparsecs, the LMC is the second or third closest galaxy to the Milky Way, after the Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal and the possible dwarf irregular galaxy known as the Canis Major Overdensity.
The image was taken from a very dark site in the South African desert.