Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2001 July 17
Explanation: Stars, like people, do not always go gentle into that good night. The above Carina Nebula, also known as the Keyhole Nebula and NGC 3372, results from dying star Eta Carinae's violently casting off dust and gas during its final centuries. Eta Carinae, one of the most luminous stars known, is visible as the bright star near the centre of the nebula. The above picture was taken in three distinct colours of light: blue light as emitted from hot oxygen, green light as emitted by warm hydrogen, and red light as emitted by cool sulfur. Eta Carinae faded from being one of the brightest stars in the sky during the 1800s, but is still visible with binoculars in southern skies towards the constellation of Carina.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.