Image Credit: ESO/M.-R. Cioni/VISTA Magellanic Cloud survey. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

No matter how many times you see it, the Tarantula Nebula—like the Pillars of Creation, and the Orion and Carina nebulae—never quite loses the WOW factor. Part of that surely lies in the fact that the region is simply gargantuan. In each and every image, something completely new pops out at you.

In this spectacular version, taken with the ESO’s Very Large Telescope, when astronomers were working to survey the most massive stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud’s most famous stellar nursery, they stumbled across something unusual—what may be one of the fastest rotating stars in the universe (at least the local part). Called VFTS 102, the star moves at a rate of 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) per hour: so quickly—several hundreds of times faster than the Sun rotates—if it picks up the pace, it will soon be ripped apart from the inside out.

From the ESO:

The Tarantula nebula lurks some 160,000 light-years from Earth in the Doradus constellation, while VFTS 102 can be seen smack dab in the center of the image above. An annotated version can be found here.


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