In the News: Magellan’s Circumnavigation Retraced; the ‘Tarantula Nebula’ Explored

LMC and SMC rendered from Gaia EDR3 data
with foreground stars removed.

In the News - 5/15/22

Images Reveal Violence Inside ‘Tarantula Nebula’ as Massive Stars Are Born 

Among the stars that Magellan’s crew witnessed as they approached the strait: the Tarantula Nebula, one of the brightest and most active star-forming regions in our galactic neighborhood—hosting some of the most massive stars known. From the article:

Where is the Tarantula Nebula?

The Tarantula Nebula is extra-galactic object. It’s within the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), an irregular dwarf galaxy that orbits our Milky Way galaxy and will be absorbed by it in 2.4 billion years. The LMC contains about 30 billion stars.

The LMC and SMC

The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and the nearby Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) are dense star-fields that appear to the naked eye as fuzzy patches. Although they’re both circumpolar, they’re best seen from equatorial regions and the southern hemisphere when highest in the sky on a dark, moonless night between September and April. They’re found between the stars Canopus and Achernar.

They were named after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who spotted them in 1519 while circumnavigating the globe for the first time.

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Tracing the Path of History

A descendant of a Victoria survivor retraces the route 500 years later. From the article: 

Five centuries ago, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan attempted to circumnavigate the globe in the name of the Spanish crown.

He was killed in what is now modern-day Philippines before making it to the end of the long and perilous voyage, and of the fleet of five ships, only managed to return to their port of origin Seville – the Victoria, captained by Juan Sebastian Elcano.

Five hundred years on, a descendant of one of those sailors aboard the Victoria is following in the footsteps of his forefather.

Explorer and multimedia content creator Pedro Arruabarrena, whose ancestor was one of the survivors of Magellan’s expedition – sailor Pedro de Tolosa wanted to re-experience the historic event.

He was in Brunei as part of that journey recently, accompanied by Sirimiri, a small robot companion that helps to record his travels.

Image, Top: By Kevinmloch - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99701641