A Hubble Space Telescope composite image of a portion of the Tarantula Nebula's central cavity illustrates the profound effect new stars can have on their environment. The young stars of 30 Doradus are acting something like cosmic, decidedly non-eco-friendly light bulbs. Each star cranks out a dazzlingly high wattage in the form of optical and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. That flood of UV light and the gusts of hot particles also flowing freely from these stars have hollowed out a bubble in the gaseous nebula.
While the nebula's gas and dust seem to have withered under that stellar glare, interesting features arise at the edges of the bubble. This exposed rim has been compressed into sharp ridges. Resembling the surface of a choppy ocean, these uneven edges curve, branch, and form awkward peaks that jut back into the bubble's punishing environment. Only with Hubble's exceptional resolution could the real intricacy and three-dimensionality of these features be revealed.
The high-resolution Hubble data have been combined with ground-based observations that trace hydrogen gas (in red) and oxygen (in blue). Together, this region can be appreciated as a microcosm of the larger nebula: a swirling palette of gas, dust, and stars in the midst of tumultuous upheaval.