Pictures of the Eta Carinae Nebula
Pictures of the Eta Carinae Nebula and facts about the massive star at its centre.
The Eta Carinae Nebula, NGC 3372, is located 7,500 lightyears away from Earth and spans a distance of over 300 lightyears. It is one of the largest star-forming regions in our Milky Way galaxy.
The region can be seen in the Southern Hemisphere sky and is host to at least a dozen stars that are each between 50 to 100 times the mass of our Sun, but it is named after its most famous stellar member: star Eta Carinae.
The star is thought to be about 100 times as massive as our Sun and may be one of the most massive stars in our galaxy, radiating about 5 million times more energy than the Sun.
In images of the Eta Carinae nebula, the star can be seen as the brightest point of light located near the centre.
About 150 years ago the star underwent a fierce outburst that saw it become one of the brightest in the southern sky, releasing as much visible light as a supernova. However, on this occasion the star survived.
The massive stars that populate the Eta Carinae Nebula and whose powerful stellar winds and ultraviolet radiation cause the surrounding region to glow are also violently carving out and stripping away the gas and dust necessary for new stars to form.
A Southern Hemisphere object, the Eta Carinae Nebula was discovered by French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille from the Cape of Good Hope in the 1750s. Since its discovery, it has become known as one of the most turbulent, active and fascinating regions in the Milky Way.
Below is a selection of images of the Eta Carinae Nebula by astrophotographers and BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers.