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Optical image of the Carina nebula, NGC 3372

Optical image of the Carina nebula, NGC 3372

R574/0023

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Credit

ROYAL OBSERVATORY, EDINBURGH / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY 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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