Wow!

The Hubble Space Telescope is celebrating 17 years of operations with a truly fantastic image of the Carina nebula. Take a look (click image for larger versions)!

Carina nebula
Hubble Space Telescope view of the Carina Nebula which is 7500 light years away. Image composed of 48 frames from the ACS. Red is sulphur, green is hydrogen and blue is oxygen. CREDIT: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
The full size image totally blew me away but it gets even better when you zoom in and have a look at the star clusters, Bok globules, star formation regions and shocks. I could spend hours looking around this image just exclaiming at the shear beauty of it and finding gems. The full sized image is a mosaic created from 48 separate images taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys - which broke at the end of January - and consists of a whopping 29,566 x 14,321 pixels. It covers a region about 50 light years across and is false colour; red represents sulphur, green shows the hydrogen and blue is the oxygen. Watch the latest Hubblecast video for more details.

I have tried printing out a lower resolution version (although still huge) but the printer I used washes out the colours so it looks as if I have spilt water all over it. I would love to see this wall-sized from a good printer. Anyway, here are a few close-ups.

Carina close-up
Caring nebula close-up CREDIT: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Carina close-up
Caring nebula close-up CREDIT: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
The image above shows a close-up of one region containing an open cluster with Bok globules looking amazing silhouetted against the rest of the nebula. Another area of the full image (below) shows the star Eta Carina (bottom right) itself with its two lobes of material that it ejected around 150 years ago. The area next to it looks pretty circular and I can't help think that it is some kind of shock front from another star.
Carina close-up
Caring nebula close-up CREDIT: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
There is a huge amount of really interesting physics going on in this image but, for now, I'm just going to sit and be awed.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Tuesday 24th Apr 2007 (14:00 BST) | Permalink
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