Posts Tagged ‘eta carina’

Secrets in Carina’s Dust

Credit: ESO/T. Preibisch

Sea monsters, birds and mystic mountains hide in this detailed infrared image of the Carina Nebula from ESO‘s Very Large Telescope.

Explore the cool details of the stellar nursery known as the Carina Nebula. What shapes and stories do you see? Leave a note below.

The Carina Nebula is one of the most active star-making factories in the Milky Way Galaxy. Nebulae are clouds of glowing gas and dust; perfect ingredients for making stars. The Carina Nebula is one of the largest nebulae known. It not only home to regular stars like our Sun but also the nebula houses some of the heaviest and most massive stars known. The bright area in the lower left is one of these stars. Known as Eta Carinae, this star, surrounded by arcs of glowing clouds, has been the second brightest star in our Earth skies. Its light changes over time and astronomers think that it may explode in a supernova in the near future.

The nebula is a favorite among the amazing images from NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope. That image taken in visible light shows many details. But looking at objects in space with infrared telescopes allows astronomers to peer into clouds of dust. We feel infrared as heat. With an infrared camera, we can see warm objects glowing inside the clouds of dust. These warm objects tend to be newborn stars still veiled in the dust clouds that created them. In both visible and infrared images, look for inky blobs of material. These cold, compact blobs of dust are known as Bok globules. They may be cocoons for new stars.

The nebula makes individual stars and also produces some star clusters. The bright cluster of stars near the center of the image is called Trumpler 14. This region can be seen in the Hubble image but many more stars are visible here. The yellowish cluster of stars to the left of Trumpler 14 can only be seen in infrared. It was discovered for the first time in this image. It appears yellow because thick dust scatters the light of the cluster making it yellowish or reddish much like the red sunsets we have on Earth. Astronomers use images like this to find fainter and smaller stars. They may even be able to see very faint, and cool brown dwarfs. Brown dwarfs are stars that didn’t quite make it as stars because they were too small to start nuclear fires within their cores.

The Carina Nebula is found about 7,500 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Carina, the Keel of Jason’s ship, the Argo.

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Glowy, swirly jungle

Credit: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

If you set out to find a starry version of “Where the Wild Things Are,” you’d find it in the Carina Nebula. All week, we’ve been exploring the way the swirls in the star cloud look like animals; a swift, caterpillar and an eagle, and sea monsters.

But it’s more than that. We find that giant stars, on the verge of going supernova, cause the gas to swirl and glow. And inky, dark dust globs, called Bok globules, hide new stars. We see all this in the larger mosaic of images taken by NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope.

From side to side, the entire Carina Nebula spans 300 light years. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles. It is a very large nebula in Earth’s skies but it lies far in the southern hemisphere so it’s not well known. Astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille discovered the nebula in 1751-52 during a science trip to the Cape of Good Hope at the tip of Africa.

The Carina Nebula is about 7,500 light-years away toward the constellation Carina the Keel. Carina is a constellation in the southern hemisphere. it is part of an older constellation group called Argo Navis, after the ship that carried Jason and the Argonauts.

Spitting Dragon

Credit: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

A dragon spits star dust in the Carina Nebula. This dragon is part of a huge glowing and swirling cloud of gas and dust. In this image we see star birth as well as star death within the Great Nebula in Carina, also known as NGC 3372.

But it’s more than that. We find that giant stars, on the verge of going supernova, cause the gas to swirl and glow. And inky, dark dust globs that look like tadpoles, called Bok globules, hide new stars. We also find new shapes to explore and ponder; birds, caterpillars and sea monsters. We see all this in the larger mosaic of images taken by NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope.

Share what you see as you explore the nebula.

From side to side, the entire Carina Nebula spans 300 light years. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles. It is a very large nebula in Earth’s skies but it lies far in the southern hemisphere so it’s not well known. Astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille discovered the nebula in 1751-52 during a science trip to the Cape of Good Hope at the tip of Africa.

The Carina Nebula is about 7,500 light-years away toward the constellation Carina the Keel. Carina is a constellation in the southern hemisphere. it is part of an older constellation group called Argo Navis, after the ship that carried Jason and the Argonauts.

Glowy, swirly jungle

Credit: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

If you set out to find a starry version of “Where the Wild Things Are,” you’d find it in the Carina Nebula. All week, we’ve been exploring the way the swirls in the star cloud look like animals; a swift, caterpillar and an eagle, and sea monsters.

But it’s more than that. We find that giant stars, on the verge of going supernova, cause the gas to swirl and glow. And inky, dark dust globs, called Bok globules, hide new stars. We see all this in the larger mosaic of images taken by NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope.

From side to side, the entire Carina Nebula spans 300 light years. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles. It is a very large nebula in Earth’s skies but it lies far in the southern hemisphere so it’s not well known. Astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille discovered the nebula in 1751-52 during a science trip to the Cape of Good Hope at the tip of Africa.

The Carina Nebula is about 7,500 light-years away toward the constellation Carina the Keel. Carina is a constellation in the southern hemisphere. it is part of an older constellation group called Argo Navis, after the ship that carried Jason and the Argonauts.

Wings of gas and dust

Credit: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Giant bird shapes seem to abound within the glowing gas of the Carina Nebula. Monday we found a stellar swift. Today, it looks like a swan, or pelican, or eagle.

In this part of the image from NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope, we find the most intense part of the star forming nebula. We also find in the area one of the most massive stars in the galaxy, Eta Carinae, just to the left of center in the image. It is a blue hypergiant star and it is very bright. Astronomers guess that Eta Carinae is 100 to 150 times more massive than our Sun and four million times more luminous. Although it is labeled as the seventh brightest star in the constellation Carina, the light from the star changes year to year. Sometimes it becomes very bright and then becomes very dim, so dim we cannot see it from Earth. In 1841, an outburst occurred that made the star the second brightest object in Earth’s night sky. The material thrown off the star created the Homunculus Nebula, which in Latin means “little man.” It looks like a double bubble around Eta Carinae. Hypergiant stars like Eta Carinae quickly end their lives in a supernova explosion. Eta Carina was known to ancient men who called it Foramen. Chinese astronomers refer to it as Tseen She, or Heaven’s Altars.

The whole Carina Nebula likely would have looked different if the Hubble Space Telescope had been in orbit before 1841. Ultraviolet radiation from the outburst would have lit up the entire nebula, causing it to glow more brightly than before.

The Carina Nebula is a very large nebula in Earth’s skies but it lies far in the southern hemisphere so it’s not well known. Astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille discovered the nebula in 1751-52 during a science trip to the Cape of Good Hope at the tip of Africa.

The Carina Nebula is about 7,500 light-years away toward the constellation Carina the Keel. Carina is a constellation in the southern hemisphere. it is part of an older constellation group called Argo Navis, after the ship that carried Jason and the Argonauts.

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The ancient peoples saw pictures in the sky. From those patterns in the heavens, ancient storytellers created legends about heroes, maidens, dragons, bears, centaurs, dogs and mythical creatures...
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