The Carina nebula, NGC 3372
AAO image reference AAT 9.     « Previous || Next »

The Carina nebula, NGC 3372 carina.jpg, ngc3372.jpg
Top left is NE. Image width is about 41 arc min
Image and text © 1985-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.

The brightest part of the Milky Way, as seen by the unaided eye, lies in the southern constellation Carina. Here there are an unusually large number of young, hot stars and their radiation is rich in energetic ultraviolet light. Many of these stars were born within the spectacular Carinae nebula, seen here. The nebula is a cloud of glowing gas composed mostly of hydrogen, excited by ultrviolet light from the embedded stars. The distinctive red emission radiation of fluorescent hydrogen is responsible for the red colour. About a quarter of the nebula is made of helium gas, the second most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen, and all the other chemical elements account for only a few percent of the total mass. The brightest star in the nebula is known as eta Carinae, seen here a little to the east (left) of the keyhole shape in the middle of the image. This remarkable object is one of the most luminous and most massive stars known and is better seen in image AAT 32 (below).

Related Images
AAT 32.   Eta Carina and the Keyhole nebula
AAT 37.   Eta Carina and Trumpler 14
AAT 45.   The Homunculus around Eta Carina
UKS 6.    The Great Nebula in Carina, NGC 3372
UKS 6a.  The Great Nebula in Carina, NGC 3372 (wide field)
UKS 41   The elemental structure of the Carina Nebula (emission lines)
Constellation of Hydra (external site)

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1