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Stars and stellar evolution
Pillar in the Carina Nebula

Star-birth pillar in the Carina Nebula


This is a pillar of gas and dust within which stars are forming. The stars are hidden behind the dust (top image), but one star is providing evidence of its existence through a jet that is visible to the right and left of the pillar. The star and its jets are seen more clearly in the near-infrared image, at bottom.


The Carina Nebula is found in the constellation Carina, in the Southern Hemisphere.

Distance from Earth

7,500 light-years


The pillar is three light-years in length; the total length of the jet is about 10 light-years. The jets extend farther than can be seen in the infrared view. Their length is suggested by wispy clouds in the visible light image.

Stars are bursting to life inside this huge pillar of gas and dust in the Carina Nebula, but they are not clearly visible in the top image, taken in visible light. The bottom image, taken in near-infrared light, cuts through the dust and reveals the fledgling stars inside the pillar. One star can be seen shooting jets to the left and right.

Enlarge Image


"Fast Facts: Pillar in the Carina Nebula" is a table that lists the name, location, size, and distance of the nebula from Earth. Images of the pillar in both visible and near-infrared light are included.

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Adaptable, at teacher's discretion
How to use in the classroom

Use this resource as:

A source of information. Read the table to find out about this object.

A mapping activity. Locate the nebula's associated constellation on a star map.

A large-number recognition activity. Have students look at several Fast Fact tables, including this one. Ask them to place the objects described in the Fast Fact tables in order, starting with the object closest to Earth and ending with the one farthest away.

An inquiry tool. Have students write down questions they would like answered about the image and the information in the Fast Facts table.

An engagement tool. Involve students in a discussion.

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HubbleSite press release: "Hubble Opens New Eyes on the Universe"

Amazing space resources by topic: Stars and Stellar Evolution