Continuing the Space Scenery series…
Nebulae are clouds of dust and gas in space (the word ‘nebula’ comes the Latin for ‘cloud’). They usually have stars forming within them, which gives them the aesthetically pleasing quality of being lit from the inside.
Visible in the southern sky, the Great Carina Nebula (also known as NGC 3372) is over 300 light-years wide. It is one of the Milky Way’s largest star forming regions. It is 7500 light years away and yet still easily visible to the naked eye.
I’ll start with a fantastic widefield view. Click for the 3300 × 2236 version:
This image is one of the most detailed images ever captured of the Carina Nebula. It shows prominent dark molecular clouds – these clouds so thick (relatively) that they have become opaque. In reality they are less dense than, say, Earth’s atmosphere. Click for the 4000 × 1937 version:
Here is a view from Earth – from the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Click for the 4000 × 3966 version:
Stellar winds from new stars burn away accumulations of dark dust creating a “sculpted landscape”. Click for the 2825 × 1090 version:
Last, but not least, here is my favourite image. A new star (not visible) is slowly eroding the 1 light year wide pillar of gas and dust from inside. Like many other new stars in this region, it is ejecting energetic beams of particles. The pillars will be completely destroyed to reveal a new open cluster of stars. The red stars are also newly formed but have already been freed from their clouds. Click for the 2083 × 1918 version:Follow @kashfarooq