The Tortured Clouds of Eta Carinae

Spitzer_ssc2013-07b_1024

spitzer_ssc2013-07b August 22nd, 2013

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Massive stars can wreak havoc on their surroundings, as can be seen in this new view of the Carina nebula from NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope. The bright star at the center of the nebula is Eta Carinae, one of the most massive stars in the galaxy. Its blinding glare is sculpting and destroying the surrounding nebula.

Eta Carinae is a true giant of a star. It is around 100 times the mass of our sun and is burning its nuclear fuel so quickly that it is at least one million times brighter than the sun. It has brightened and faded over the years, and some astronomers think it could explode as a supernova in the not-too-distant future.

Such a tremendous outflow of energy comes at a great cost to the surrounding nebula. The infrared light from the star destroys particles of dust, sculpting cavities and leaving pillars of denser material that point back to the star. Spitzers infrared vision lets us see the dust, shown in red, as well as clouds of hot, glowing gas that appear green.

Spitzer released an image of a small part of this nebula in 2005. Subsequent observations greatly expanded our view of the entire region, and the data were combined and reprocessed as part of the extended Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (GLIMPSE) project.

The infrared images were captured with the Spitzer's infrared array camera. The pictures are three-channel composites, showing emission from wavelengths of 3.6 microns (blue), 4.5 microns (green), and 8.0 microns (red).

Provider: Spitzer Space Telescope

Image Source: https://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/image/ssc2013-07b-the-tortured-clouds-of-eta-carinae

Curator: Spitzer Space Telescope, Pasadena, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/info/18-Image-Use-Policy

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Carina Nebula NGC 3372 Eta Carinae
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula > Type > Star Formation
Star > Evolutionary Stage > Blue Supergiant
Star > Spectral Type > O

Distance

Universescale1
10,000 light years
Spitzer_ssc2013-07b_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 10h 45m 5.4s
DEC = -59° 41’ 5.5”
Orientation
North is 27.8° CW
Field of View
2.1 x 2.1 degrees
Constellation
Carina

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Near-IR) 3.6 µm
Green Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Near-IR) 4.5 µm
Red Spitzer (MIPS) Infrared (Mid-IR) 8.0 µm
Spectrum_base
Blue
Green
Red
Spitzer_ssc2013-07b_1280
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ID
ssc2013-07b
Subject Category
B.4.1.2   B.3.1.6   B.3.3.1  
Subject Name
Carina Nebula, NGC 3372, Eta Carinae
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech
Release Date
2013-08-22
Lightyears
10,000
Redshift
10,000
Reference Url
https://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/image/ssc2013-07b-the-tortured-clouds-of-eta-carinae
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Spitzer, Spitzer, Spitzer
Instrument
IRAC, IRAC, MIPS
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Near-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3600, 4500, 8000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
Reference Value
161.2723525464, -59.6848665500
Reference Dimension
6400, 6400
Reference Pixel
3200, 3200
Scale
-0.0003333, 0.0003333
Rotation
-27.8
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Spitzer Space Telescope
URL
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
1200 E. California Blvd.
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
91125
Country
USA
Rights
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/info/18-Image-Use-Policy
Publisher
Spitzer Science Center
Publisher ID
spitzer
Resource ID
ssc2013-07b.tif
Metadata Date
2022-01-22T08:06:28Z
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
10,000 light years