Carina Nebula images show the birth of stars

Carina Nebula images show the birth of stars

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New images taken by the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope show extraordinary beautiful clouds of the Carina Nebula, are where stars are born.

The photos show massive stars being born and the dust clouds of the Carina Nebula, which is located about 7,500 light-years away in the constellation of Carina. It is currently one of the brightest constellations in the night sky.

Stars found within the nebula are often the equivalent of 25,000 suns, while Carina’s total mass of gas and dust clouds is about 140,000 suns. The 150 light-year-wide object contains dense fields of hydrogen gas and dust that, when they collapse, spawn extremely large, bright and short-lived stars. The stars eventually burn out after millions of years, causing supernovas.

That said, only a fraction of the gas in the Carina Nebula is in sufficiently dense clouds to collapse and form new stars in the immediate future. Not all of the gas in the nebula will actually form stars, meaning only about 10 percent of this gas seen in the nebula is dense enough to start the star birth process.

The new images reveals the clouds of dust and molecular gas from which new stars may form. Since the grains of dust are very cold, the faint light they emit can only be seen at submillimeter wavelengths.

The nebula is one of the largest diffuse nebulae in our skies. Although it is some four times as large and even brighter than the famous Orion Nebula, the Carina Nebula is much less well known, due to its location far in the Southern Hemisphere.

The team of astronomers capturing the images was led by Thomas Preibisch, from the University Observatory Munich in Germany.

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