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A Montage of the Carina Nebula

The Carina Nebula (known by astronomers as NGC 3372) is sometimes called the Great Nebula in Carina or the Grand Nebula. These images taken by the Hubble space telescope show the magnificent structure within the Carina Nebula. These images contain regions of dense star formation, interstellar winds, massive particle clouds and much more. Many of these structures are hundreds of light-years across and make the size of our solar system look pathetic in comparison. The Carine Nebula is about 10,000 light-years away from earth and is located in the constellation Carina.

Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble

This is just a small portion of one of the largest seen star-birth regions in the galaxy, the Carina Nebula. Towers of cool hydrogen laced with dust rise from the wall of the nebula. The scene is reminiscent of Hubble’s classic “Pillars of Creation” photo from 1995, but is even more striking in appearance. The image captures the top of a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being pushed apart from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks like arrows sailing through the air.

These two images of a three-light-year-high pillar of star birth demonstrate how observations taken in visible and infrared light by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveal dramatically different and complementary views of an object.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

Hidden Treasures of the Carina Nebula

This image shows the Great Nebula in Carina (NGC 3372) in infrared light. This majestic nebula is one of the largest nebulae in the sky and lies about 7,500 light years distant in the Southern constellation of Carina, The Keel. Several star clusters containing some of the brightest and most massive stars known are found here, including the extremely luminous hypergiant star Eta Carinae - one of the prime candidates for the next supernova explosion in our galaxy. 

Traditional images of the Carina Nebula taken in visible light primarily display the striking magenta colour from glowing Hydrogen gas, as well as large dark obscuring clouds of dust. But infrared light penetrates these clouds better and allows for a deep peek into the heart of the nebula, revealing complex details and thousands of young stars that are otherwise completely invisible. 

These stars shine primarily in the infrared and appear as golden red in this image. Only a minority of these are even visible in traditional images.

Credit: Rolf Olsen

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Star Forming Region - NGC 3324

Located in the Southern Hemisphere, NGC 3324 is at the northwest corner of the Carina Nebula (NGC 3372), home of the Keyhole Nebula and the active, outbursting star Eta Carinae. The entire Carina Nebula complex is located at a distance of roughly 7,200 light-years, and lies in the constellation Carina.

The image also reveals dramatic dark towers of cool gas and dust that rise above the glowing wall of gas. The dense gas at the top resists the blistering ultraviolet radiation from the central stars, and creates a tower that points in the direction of the energy flow. The high-energy radiation blazing out from the hot, young stars in NGC 3324 is sculpting the wall of the nebula by slowly eroding it away.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Star Birth in the Carina Nebula

A towering “mountain” of cold hydrogen gas laced with dust is the site of new star formation in the Carina Nebula (NGC 3372). The great gas pillar is being eroded by the ultraviolet radiation from the hottest newborn stars in the nebula. This portion of the Carina Nebula is home to some of the most intense star formation in the Milky Way galaxy.

Credit: NASA/Hubble

The Great Carina Nebula : A jewel of the southern sky, the Great Carina Nebula, also known as NGC 3372, spans over 300 light-years, one of our galaxys largest star forming regions. Like the smaller, more northerly Great Orion Nebula, the Carina Nebula is easily visible to the unaided eye, though at a distance of 7,500 light-years it is some 5 times farther away. This gorgeous telescopic close-up reveals remarkable details of the regions central glowing filaments of interstellar gas and obscuring cosmic dust clouds. The field of view is over 50 light-years across. The Carina Nebula is home to young, extremely massive stars, including the stars of open cluster Trumpler 14 . While Eta Carinae itself maybe on the verge of a supernova explosion, X-ray images indicate that the Great Carina Nebula has been a veritable supernova factory. via NASA

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The Great Carina Nebula : A jewel of the southern sky, the Great Carina Nebula, also known as NGC 3372, spans over 300 light-years, one of our galaxys largest star forming regions. Like the smaller, more northerly Great Orion Nebula, the Carina Nebula is easily visible to the unaided eye, though at a distance of 7,500 light-years it is some 5 times farther away. This gorgeous telescopic close-up reveals remarkable details of the regions central glowing filaments of interstellar gas and obscuring cosmic dust clouds. The field of view is over 50 light-years across. The Carina Nebula is home to young, extremely massive stars, including the stars of open cluster Trumpler 14 . While Eta Carinae itself maybe on the verge of a supernova explosion, X-ray images indicate that the Great Carina Nebula has been a veritable supernova factory. via NASA

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“Mystic Mountain” A Pillar of Gas and Dust in the Carina Nebula

Hubble’s 20th anniversary image shows a mountain of dust and gas rising in the Carina Nebula. The top of a three-light-year tall pillar of cool hydrogen is being worn away by the radiation of nearby stars, while stars within the pillar unleash jets of gas that stream from the peaks.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

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