Optical image of the Carina nebula, NGC 3372

Optical image of the Carina nebula, NGC 3372

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This image is part of the feature Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Credit: ROYAL OBSERVATORY, EDINBURGH/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Optical image of the Carina nebula (NGC 3372), 6500 light years away from the Earth. It is a HII region, an enormous cloud of hydrogen gas 300 light years across that is ionised & lit up by the ultraviolet radiation of two clusters of young, hot stars. The dark regions in the nebula are clouds of interstellar dust that absorb the emitted light. At the centre, in the bright part of the nebula, lies the star Eta Carinae. It exploded in 1843 to become one of the brightest stars in the sky for a few years.

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Keywords: astronomy, carina nebula, cosmology, dust, eta carinae, eta carinae nebula, evolution, hii region, interstellar absorption, ionised hydrogen, keyhole nebula, ngc 3372, science, star birth, starbirth, stellar formation

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