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05.30.05

Carina in Context

This animation starts with an image of a larger but lower resolution image of the Carina Nebula from the Midcourse Space Experiment, which did an infrared survey of the sky while in operation from 1996-97. The image shows the dying star Eta Carinae as the bright spot near the center of the image. As the movie rotates and zooms in, the area that Spitzer studied in detail comes into focus.

The "pillars" in the Spitzer image are being sculpted by ultraviolet radiation and stellar winds from the massive star Eta Carinae, a star with more than 100 times the mass of our Sun, and other massive neighboring stars.

Spitzer's infrared detectors can see the heat from warm, embedded star embryos, as well as deeper, more buried pillars. This image was taken by the infrared array camera on Spitzer. It is a three-color composite of invisible light, showing emissions from wavelengths of 3.6 microns (blue), 4.5 microns (green), 5.8 microns (orange), and 8.0 microns (red).

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