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The Carina Nebula is a 3-million-year-old cloud of gas that is a star-making factory, churning out tens of thousands of stars. The nebula is located about 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina the Keel. This view of the nebula from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows star birth in a new level of detail.
The fairytale landscape includes several stars that are among the hottest and most massive known. The immense nebula contains at least a dozen brilliant stars that are roughly estimated to be at least 50 to 100 times the mass of our Sun.
One of the Carina Nebula's most famous occupants is the unstable double-star system Eta Carinae. Among the largest and brightest star systems in our Milky Way galaxy, this stellar duo is known for its spectacular, periodic outbursts. The larger of the pair is an enormous 90 solar masses, while its smaller companion is 30 solar masses. The more massive of these two stars is destined to explode soon as a supernova.
CREDIT FOR HUBBLE IMAGE:
CREDIT FOR CTIO IMAGE:
N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley) and NOAO/AURA/NSF