Astronomy Picture of the Day

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.

2009 May 24
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
the highest resolution version available.

Carina Nebula Panorama from Hubble
Credit: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (U. California, Berkeley) et al., and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Explanation: In one of the brightest parts of Milky Way lies a nebula where some of the oddest things occur. NGC 3372, known as the Great Nebula in Carina, is home to massive stars and changing nebulas. Eta Carinae, the most energetic star in the nebula, was one of the brightest stars in the sky in the 1830s, but then faded dramatically. The Keyhole Nebula, visible left of center, houses several of the most massive stars known and has also changed its appearance. The entire Carina Nebula spans over 300 light years and lies about 7,500 light-years away in the constellation of Carina. Pictured above is the most detailed image of the Carina Nebula ever taken. The controlled color image is a composite of 48 high-resolution frames taken by the Hubble Space Telescope two years ago. Wide-field annotated and zoomable image versions are also available.

Tomorrow's picture: hubble float

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