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.

2022 September 5
The featured image shows a dense line of dark dust that 
appears like cliffs in the Carina Nebula as captured by the
Webb Space Telescope.
Please see the explanation for more detailed information.

Carina Cliffs from the Webb Space Telescope
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

Explanation: Stars created these cliffs. Specifically, the destructive winds and energetic light from the stars in the open cluster NGC 3324 eroded away part of a mountain of dark interstellar dust in the northern part of the Carina Nebula. Several of these stars are visible toward the top of this highly detailed image taken recently by the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest astronomical telescope ever launched. Webb's large mirror and ability to see dust-piercing infrared light has enabled it to capture fascinating details in the dust, hundreds of previously hidden stars, and even some galaxies far in the distance. The featured jagged cliffs occur in part of Carina known as the Gabriela Mistral Nebula -- because when viewed in another orientation, they appear similar to the facial profile of the famous Chilean poet. These nebular cliffs occur about 7,600 light years away toward the southern constellation of Carina.

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