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X-ray image of the Carina Nebula

X-ray image of the Carina Nebula

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Credit

LEICESTER UNIVERSITY X-RAY ASTRONOMY GROUP / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LEICESTER UNIVERSITY X-RAY ASTRONOMY GROUP / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

X-ray picture of the Carina Nebula, recorded by the Einstein Observatory satellite. The bright source towards lower right is the unusual star Eta Carinae. In the 1820s, Eta Carinae increased 20 times in optical brightness; it stayed extremely brilliant for 40 years, before fading to optical invisibility in the 1860s. Since then it has brightened gradually, so it is now just visible to the unaided eye. It is surrounded by a shell of gas & dust which it emitted during its active period. Its light is largely obscured by this shell, but at x-ray wavelengths it shines brightly through.

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