NATIONAL OPTICAL ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORIES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NATIONAL OPTICAL ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORIES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Eta Carinae nebula. Optical filter image of the Eta Carinae nebula (NGC 3372). Filters distinguish the light emitted by hydrogen (green), oxygen (blue, cool) and sulphur (red, hot) ions. This is a huge starbirth region, a cloud of gas and dust in which some of the gas is condensing into stars. The gases are ionised by radiation from massive, hot stars embedded in it. The nebula lies around 8000 light years from Earth in the constellation Carina. Image from the Curtis-Schmidt telescope, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, Chile.
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