2MASS PROJECT / NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY 2MASS PROJECT / NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Eta Carinae nebula. Coloured infrared image of the Eta Carinae nebula (NGC 3372). This is a huge starbirth region. It is a cloud of gas and dust in which some of the gas is condensing into stars. It is named after the bright star Eta Carinae (seen on the lower left edge of the pink gas cloud). This is a massive star, over 100 times the mass of the Sun, which is around 3 million times more powerful than the Sun. Due to this it is extremely unstable. It underwent a huge outburst in the 1840s, and for a time became the second brightest star in the sky before fading. During the outburst it cast off several large loops of gas (pink), which are seen immediately around it.
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