NOAO / AURA / NSF / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NOAO / AURA / NSF / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Eta Carinae Nebula (NGC 3372), optical image. North is at top. This nebula (a vast cloud of dust and gas) surrounds the variable star Eta Carinae (orange, lower left of nebula). This massive star, over 100 times the mass of the Sun, is the most luminous star known in our galaxy. It radiates its energy at a rate that is 5 million times that of the Sun. Because of its huge mass, it is extremely unstable. It is in the constellation Carina, about 9000 light years away from Earth. Photographed by the Blanco 4-metre telescope, Cerro Tololo, Chile.
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