NASA has released a sparkling photo taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope of a small section of the Carina Nebula.
The Carina Nebula is located approximately 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina.
This object was first discovered in the 1752 by the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille.
Also known as NGC 3372 or Caldwell 92, it is a dynamic, evolving cloud of thinly spread interstellar gas and dust.
The massive stars in its interior emit intense radiation that causes the surrounding gas to glow. By contrast, other regions contain dark pillars of dust cloaking newborn stars.
There’s a battle raging between stars and dust in the nebula, and the newly-formed stars are winning — they produce high-energy radiation and stellar winds which evaporate and disperse the dusty stellar nurseries in which they formed.
Spanning over 300 light-years, the Carina Nebula is one of the Milky Way Galaxy’s largest star-forming regions and is easily visible to the unaided eye under dark skies.
One of the nebula’s most famous denizens is the unstable, behemoth double-star system Eta Carinae.
“The Carina Nebula is an emission nebula, meaning that the intense radiation from its stars ionizes the gas and causes it to glow,” Hubble astronomers said in a statement.
“That gas is widely and thinly spread out over a large area, earning it the added designation of a diffuse nebula.”
“As stars form and produce ultraviolet radiation, their stellar winds disperse the gas and dust around them, sometimes forming dark, dusty cloaks and sometimes creating empty patches for the stars to become clearly visible.”
“To take this image of the Carina Nebula, we relied on Hubble’s infrared light imaging capabilities, which detect longer wavelengths of light not scattered by the heavy dust and gas surrounding the stars,” the astronomers explained.
“This image shows only a small section of the nebula, located near the center in an area with thinner gas.”
“Due to the nebula’s enormous size, we can only study it in sections, piecing together the data from separate images to get an understanding of the nebula’s large-scale structure and composition.”
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