Annotated Map of the Tarantula Nebula
(click to enlarge)

This annotated map identifies several prominent features in an image of the Tarantula Nebula (also known as 30 Doradus), a prominent region of star formation located in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) the nearest neighboring galaxy to the Milky Way. The image was produced from numerous exposures by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys.

Bright stars are labeled in yellow. Some of these are identified in the Henry Draper Catalog (HD), others appear in the catalog of objects identified by the 2-Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS). Parrticularly significant stars identified are: 30 Dor #16, a "runaway" star ejected from the prominent star cluster 30 Doradus, VFTS #102, the star with the fastest known rotation.

Several background galaxies are visible, much more distant than the Large Magellanic Cloud. A large amount of gas and dust is associated with the LMC and the Tarantula nebula in particular, obscuring most of the light from more distant sources. Neat the edges of the nebula, some galaxies are visible. These galaxies can provide an absolute reference for measuring the positions and motions of the stars within the Tarantula and the LMC. The motion of these objects is extremely difficult to measure precisely because of the vast distance to the LMC. However with the fine resolution of Hubble's cameras it is possible to measure the motions in images taken some time apart. The background galaxies are immensely farther away, so their positions within the field of view is essentially fixed, providing a frame of reference agains which the positions and motions of the closer objects in the Tarantula and LMC can be compared.