In celebration of the 17th anniversary of the launch and deployment of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, a team of astronomers is releasing one of the largest panoramic images ever taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. It is a 50-light-year- wide view of the central region of the Carina Nebula where a maelstrom of star birth – and death – is taking place. This is a black and white version of a zoom into and pan across the heart of the Carina Nebula. The nebula's fantasy-like landscape is sculpted by the intense pressure of starlight from monster stars, their star clusters, and stellar winds of charged particles. The glowing edge of a Bok globule nicknamed the "caterpillar" indicates that it is being photoionized by the hottest stars in the cluster. Stars may form inside such dusty cocoons. The top of the Keyhole Nebula, the most prominent feature embedded inside Carina, is seen. Pillars of cold hydrogen gas tower above the surface of the molecular cloud at the edge of the nebula.
Publication: April 24, 2007