Pictures of the Eta Carinae Nebula

Pictures of the Eta Carinae Nebula and facts about the massive star at its centre.

Carina Nebula Newton Cesar Florencio, Londrina, Brazil, 22 and 24 March 2020 Equipment: QHYCCD QHY9S-M camera, Canon 200mm lens, Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5 mount

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.

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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.

Eta Carinae is an ageing binary star that is reaching the end of its life, and Hubble Space Telescope images reveal how the system is ejecting two huge lobes of cosmic gas and dust out into space.

Cosmic gas and dust billows from star Eta Carinae in this image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: Jon Morse (University of Colorado), and NASA.
Cosmic gas and dust billows from star Eta Carinae in this image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: Jon Morse (University of Colorado), and NASA.

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.

Hidden stars of the Eta Carinae Nebula are revealed in infrared red light in this image captured by the Very Large telescope. Credit: ESO/T. Preibisch
Hidden stars of the Eta Carinae Nebula are revealed in infrared red light in this image captured by the Very Large telescope. Credit: ESO/T. Preibisch

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.

For more info about photographing nebulae, read our guide to deep-sky astrophotography or discover our pick of the best astrophotography cameras.

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And don’t forget to send us your images or share them with us via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Carina Nebula Newton Cesar Florencio, Londrina, Brazil, 22 and 24 March 2020 Equipment: QHYCCD QHY9S-M camera, Canon 200mm lens, Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5 mount
Carina Nebula Newton Cesar Florencio, Londrina, Brazil, 22 and 24 March 2020 Equipment: QHYCCD QHY9S-M camera, Canon 200mm lens, Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5 mount
Eta Carina Nebula. Credit: Johannes Schedler, CCDGuide.com
Eta Carina Nebula. Credit: Johannes Schedler, CCDGuide.com
Carina Nebula Newton Cesar Florencio, Londrina, Brazil, 22 and 24 March 2020 Equipment: QHYCCD QHY9S-M camera, Canon 200mm lens, Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5 mount
Eta Carinae Nebula by Newton Cesar Florencio, Londrina, Brazil, 22 and 24 March 2020 Equipment: QHYCCD QHY9S-M camera, Canon 200mm lens, Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5 mount
Eta Carina by David Trotter, Sydney, Australia. Equipment: Skywatcher ED102 Black Diamond, Canon 30d,HEQ5 Mount, Autoguided with Orion and 0.8 focal reducer, Capture Management by Backyard Eos
Eta Carina by David Trotter, Sydney, Australia. Equipment: Skywatcher ED102 Black Diamond, Canon 30d,HEQ5 Mount, Autoguided with Orion and 0.8 focal reducer, Capture Management by Backyard Eos
NGC3372 Carina Nebula by David Trotter, Sydney, Australia. Equipment: Modified Canon 30D and a Takahashi FS60-CB telescope
NGC3372 Carina Nebula by David Trotter, Sydney, Australia. Equipment: Modified Canon 30D and a Takahashi FS60-CB telescope
Eta Carina Nebula by Clay Reid, Armagh, South Australia.
Eta Carina Nebula by Clay Reid, Armagh, South Australia. Equipment: Vixen ED102S Refractor, Vixen GPDX mount, Canon 600D DSLR
NGC 3372 - The Great Nebula in Carina by Slawomir Lipinski, Brisbane, Australia.
NGC 3372 – The Great Nebula in Carina by Slawomir Lipinski, Brisbane, Australia. Equipment: Teleskop Service – 102mm f/7 ED with 0.8 reducer/flattener, QSI690, SkyWatcher HEQ5 PRO (with modifications), Orion 50mm GuideScope, ORION StarShoot AutoGuider
Eta Carina Nebula by Tom Bishton, Brisbane, Australia.
Eta Carina Nebula by Tom Bishton, Brisbane, Australia. Equipment: Skywatcher Black Diamond ED120 Refractor, AZEQ6 Mount, Canon 6D camera
Eta Carina Nebula by Tom Bishton, Brisbane, Australia.
Eta Carina Nebula by Tom Bishton, Brisbane, Australia. Equipment: Skywatcher Black Diamond ED120 Refractor, 0.8 x focal reducer/corrector, AZEQ6 Mount, Canon EOS 6D camera with Astronomik Clip Filter
Carina Nebula NGC3372 by Roger Donnelly, Henlow, UK.
Carina Nebula NGC3372 by Roger Donnelly, Henlow, UK. Equipment: Telescope Takahashi FSQ ED 106mm with a FLI 16Mp CCD on a Scientific Imaging Platform
The Carina Nebula by Ronald Piacenti Junior, Brasilia, DF, Brazil.
The Carina Nebula by Ronald Piacenti Junior, Brasilia, DF, Brazil. Equipment: SkyWatcher 254mm Dob GoTo, Canon EOS T3i
Southern Cross Eta Carinae & Lambda Centauri by Carlos Fairbairn, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.
Southern Cross Eta Carinae & Lambda Centauri by Carlos Fairbairn, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Equipment: Canon 100mm f/2, Canon 6D modified, Skywatcher StarAdventurer, Orion 50mm Guide Scope, Orion StarShoot Autoguider
Carina nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil.
Carina nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: Skywatcher 8″ F/5, Canon T1i (modded), Astronomik CLS CCD clip filter
Eta Carinae by Mario Richter, Astrofarm Kiripotib, Namibia.
Eta Carinae by Mario Richter, Astrofarm Kiripotib, Namibia. Equipment: Canons 450d, Teleobjektiv, ViXen GPDX.
Carina Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil.
Carina Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: Canon T1i, Nikon 300mm F/4.5, CLS CCD Clip filter.
Eta Carina Homunculus Nebula by Rafael Compassi and Avani Soares, Canoas, Brazil.
Eta Carina Homunculus Nebula by Rafael Compassi and Avani Soares, Canoas, Brazil. Equipment: C14 Edge HD, ASI224MC.
Eta Carina in HaLRGB by Haim Huli, Namibia.
Eta Carina in HaLRGB by Haim Huli, Namibia. Equipment: ASA Astrograph 12″ F3.6, ASA DDM85, FLI MicroLine 8300
The Eta Carina Nebula by Tom Bishton, Gold Coast Hinterland, Australia.
The Eta Carina Nebula by Tom Bishton, Gold Coast Hinterland, Australia. Equipment: ED120 Black Diamond Refractor, AZEQ6 mount, ST80 Guidescope, Synguider, Canon 600 D modded
Eta Carinae Nebulsa RGB+H-Alpha by Fernando Oliveira De Menezes, São Paulo, Brasil.
Eta Carinae Nebulsa RGB+H-Alpha by Fernando Oliveira De Menezes, São Paulo, Brasil. Equipment: Esprit 150mm ed f7, Thus 1600mm coled
Eta Carinae Nebula By Fernando Oliveira De Menezes, São Paulo, Brazil.
Eta Carinae Nebula By Fernando Oliveira De Menezes, São Paulo, Brazil. Equipment: TS 80mm triplet F4, ASI 174mm no-cooled.
Eta Carinae by Mario Richter, Finsterwalde, Germany.
Eta Carinae by Mario Richter, Finsterwalde, Germany. Equipment: Takahashi FAQ 106 EDITION, Losmandy G11 mit FS, Canon 60d mod, 37×480 Sek
The Keyhole by Rafael Compassi and Leandro Fornaziero, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: GSO 12
The Keyhole by Rafael Compassi and Leandro Fornaziero, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: GSO 12″ F/5, Canon T1i Full Spectrum, Astronomik CLS CCD clip filter