Image of the Day: “The Creation Nebula”


The NASA Hubble photo above shows a small portion of one of the largest known star-birth regions in the galaxy, the Carina Nebula surrounding several open clusters of stars dominated by Eta Carinae and HD 93129A, two of the most massive and luminous stars in our Milky Way galaxy at an estimated distance between 6,500 and 10,000 light years from Earth. Stars with more than 80 times the mass of the Sun, which are quite rare, produce more than a million times as much light as the Sun -only a few dozen in a galaxy as big as ours—and they skirt the edge of disaster near the Eddington limit, i.e., the outward pressure of their radiation is almost strong enough to counteract gravity, resulting in a possible supernova or hypernova.

Three light-year-tall towers of cool hydrogen laced with dust rise from the wall of the nebula. The scene is reminiscent of Hubble's classic "Pillars of Creation" photo from 1995, but even more striking. Towers of cool hydrogen laced with dust rise from the wall of the nebula. The pillar is also being pushed apart from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks.


Image credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team


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