Gaseous Pillar in the Carina Nebula from Hubble

  • Released Tuesday, February 28th, 2017
  • Updated Friday, August 25th, 2023 at 12:42AM
  • ID: 30859

This luminous pillar, composed of gas and dust, resides in a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away. Nestled inside this dense structure are fledgling stars. Most of the stars cannot be seen in this image because they are hidden by a wall of gas and dust.

Although the stars themselves are invisible, one of them is providing evidence of its existence. Thin puffs of material can be seen traveling to the left and to the right of a dark notch in the center of the pillar. The matter is part of a jet produced by a young star. Farther away, on the left, the jet is visible as a grouping of small, wispy clouds. A few small clouds are visible at a similar distance on the right side of the jet. Astronomers estimate that the jet is moving at speeds of up to 850,000 miles an hour. The jet's total length is about 10 light-years.

Other infant stars inside the pillar also appear to emerge. Three examples are the bright star almost directly below the jet-producing star, a fainter one to its right, and a pair of stars at the top of the pillar. Winds and radiation from some of the stars are blowing away gas from their neighborhoods, carving out large cavities that appear as faint dark holes.

Surrounding the stellar nursery is a treasure chest full of stars, most of which cannot be seen in the visible-light image because dense gas clouds veil their light. Many of them are foreground or background stars.

Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed the Carina Nebula on July 24-30, 2009. The composite image was made from filters that isolate emission from iron, magnesium, oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur.

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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team


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