From the 2Mass Image Gallery
The Carina (Keyhole) Nebula is a spectacular region of the Milky Way Galaxy, also known as NGC 3372. It contains an unusually high concentration of young massive stars, many located in star clusters, at about 2300 pc (7500 light years). The region is the result of a burst of star formation which started ~3 Myr ago and continues to the present. The truly phenomenal star Eta Carinae, a luminous blue variable star which experienced an enormous outburst in 1843, is the bright star toward the southeast of the nebula. The 2MASS image shows a persistence artifact that trails due north of the star; the artifact shows this known double-lobed structure of the Homonculus as well. It is part of star cluster Trumpler 16. Another very rich cluster of massive stars is Trumpler 14, in the nebula toward the northwest. The nebula is a complex mixture of molecular gas, reflected starlight, and dust. Within the large dark patches and tendrils of dust, new, obscured young stars are still forming in this large cloud. Image mosaic by E. Kopan (IPAC).
The images are three-band composites constructed from 2MASS Atlas Images. They are infrared images and therefore must be mapped into false colors: J light (1.2 µm) into blue, H light (1.6 µm) in green, and Ks light (2.2 µm) into red. The Atlas Images are produced in the 2MASS Production Processing System. North is up and east is to the left.
The text is based on accompanying on-line materials.
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Last Modified On: Saturday, December 16, 2000