The Tarantula is a sprawling star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small companion galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Of course, "small" is a matter of perspective; the LMC is still tens of thousands of light years across and has several billion stars in it. From its distance of 180,000 light years, the LMC appears as a smudge in the sky to the unaided eyes of southern observers.
The Tarantula Nebula is a forbidding object. Itís well over 600 light years across, has millions of times the Sunís mass worth of gas jammed into it, and is forming stars so furiously that astronomers think it may actually be creating a globular cluster, a spherical ball of hundreds of thousands of stars. You may have heard of the Orion Nebula, one of the largest and brightest of all nebulae in the Milky Way. Well, the Tarantula is thousands of times more luminous; if it were as far away as the Orion Nebula, the Tarantula would be bright enough to cast shadows on the ground!
Click here for an amazing superhuge version of the pic: http://www.eso.org/public/archives/i...g/eso1033a.jpg
You can get lost for quite a while looking at that gigantic image... just looking at how little blackness you can see in between the stars is amazing to me. So many little dots, it's unfathomable.