Astronomers Combine Hundreds of Images of Carina Nebula to Reveal Thousands of Stars in Stellar Nursery

carina-nebula-landscape-hubble

Astronomers have combined hundreds of images, including ones in the infrared spectrum, to provide the most detailed view of the Carina Nebula, a stellar nursery located about 7,500 light-years from Sol.

carina-nebula-eso-infrared-composite

The new composite image revealing previously obscured details

The Carina Nebula surrounds several open clusters, Eta Carinae and HD 93129A, two of the most massive and luminous stars in the Milky Way are among these. It’s in the constellation of Carina, in the Carina-Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way.

The Carina Nebula is four times larger and brighter than the Orion Nebula, but it’s less well known since it’s located in the Southern Hemisphere. It was discovered by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille.

Carina-wide-view

The nebula spreads across 150 light-years, and the new view reveals hundreds of thousands of stars, some of which are 10 times less massive than Sol, that were previously obscured by dust.

Astronomers knew that these stars were lurking behind other, brighter stars, but none of the previous images show the extreme details of the one above. Using the images, researchers have confirmed that star formation occurs mostly on the borders of giant globules of gas and dust, rather than deep inside the nebula itself.

They published their results in Astronomy & Astrophysics, and they also hint that stars tens or hundreds of times larger than Sol drive the star formation in Carina. The HAWK-I infrared camera at Europe’s Very Large Telescope, a four-telescope array in Chile, were used to capture these images.

[via Wired, images by ESO, Wikipedia and Hubble]

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