News Release Archive:

News Release 417 of 1051

April 24, 2007 09:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2007-16

The Carina Nebula: Star Birth in the Extreme


Image: Carina Nebula Details

Carina Nebula DetailsSTScI-PRC2007-16c

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This Hubble Space Telescope view of the central region of the Carina Nebula reveals a violent maelstrom of star birth. The fantasy-like landscape of the nebula is sculpted by the intense pressure of starlight from monster stars and their accompanying star clusters, as well as the hydrodynamics of their stellar winds of charged particles.

[Top] — An approximately one-light-year tall "pillar" of cold hydrogen towers above the wall of the molecular cloud. The 2.5-million-year-old star cluster called Trumpler 14 appears at the right side of the image. A small nugget of cold molecular hydrogen, called a Bok globule, is silhouetted against the star cluster.

[Center] — A Bok globule nicknamed the "caterpillar" appears at the right. Its glowing edge indicates that it is being photoionized by the hottest stars in the cluster. It has been hypothesized that stars may form inside such dusty cocoons. The top of the Keyhole Nebula, the most prominent feature embedded inside Carina, is on the left. Another Bok globule is in the foreground.

[Bottom] — These great clouds of cold hydrogen resemble summer afternoon thunderheads. They tower above the surface of a molecular cloud on the edge of the nebula. So-called "elephant trunk" pillars resist being heated and eaten away by blistering ultraviolet radiation from the nebula's brightest stars.

These images are from a mosaic of the Carina Nebula assembled from 48 frames taken with the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys. The Hubble images were taken in the light of neutral hydrogen. Color information was added with data taken at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. Red corresponds to sulfur, green to hydrogen, and blue to oxygen emission.

For more information, contact:

Nathan Smith
University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, Calif.,
(phone) 510-642-6931, (e-mail)

Nolan Walborn
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.,
(phone) 410-338-4915, (e-mail)

Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.,
(phone) 410-338-4514), (e-mail)

Lars Lindberg Christensen
ESA/Hubble/ST-ECF, Garching, Germany,
(phone) 49-89-320-06-306, (cell phone) 49-173-38-72-621, (e-mail)

Object Names: Carina Nebula, NGC 3372

Image Type: Astronomical/Annotated

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

Credit for CTIO Image: N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley) and NOAO/AURA/NSF


The above montage includes these images:

Carina Nebula Details: Pillar Image Type: Astronomical Carina Nebula Details: Pillar Carina Nebula Details: The Caterpillar Image Type: Astronomical Carina Nebula Details: The Caterpillar Carina Nebula Details: Great Clouds Image Type: Astronomical Carina Nebula Details: Great Clouds

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