The Carina Nebula – also known as NGC 3372 – is a large region of interstellar clouds where stars form. It is located in the Carina-Saggitarius arm of the Milky Way galaxy and gets its name from the Carina constellation because it can be seen within its borders when seen from Earth.
It is one of the brightest, most remarkable nebulae in the night sky. Unfortunately, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, it can only be seen from southern latitudes.
Still, many observatories in the region as well as the orbital telescopes have taken some astounding pics of the Carina Nebula for all of us to enjoy.
This nebula has many unique features, including two other minor nebulae (the Homunculus Nebula and the Keyhole nebula) that are believed to have been ejected from Carina. It has also regions of immense gas pillars. The most notable of these has been nicknamed as “mystic mountain” because…well, you’ll see n the photos below.
Can the Carina Nebula be seen with a telescope?
The Carina nebula has an apparent magnitude of +1.0. This makes it very easy to see even without help from a telescope. Under decent sky conditions, it is visible in the southern sky and looks just like another star.
When using a telescope, the Carina nebula can be seen with a high level of detail and is a great target for astrophotography.
The following photo was taken using a 51mm portable APO refractor telescope.
Photos of the Carina Nebula taken by the James Webb space telescope
On July 12, 2022, NASA released the first pictures taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. The Carina Nebula was selected as one of the first targets. Particularly, a region known as the “Cosmic cliffs” at the edge of a star-forming region cataloged as NGC 3324.
The photo is a composite made using the infrared data captured by the James Webb. This allows us to see a level of detail that would not be possible using just the human visual spectrum.
Photos of the Carina Nebula taken by the Hubble telescope
The Hubble was pointed at the Carina Nebula multiple times throughout its 30+ years of service.
This is actually a composite image made using both images from the Hubble and photos taken from Earth to show the complete panoramic map of the Nebula.
This photo was released for the Hubble’s 20th anniversary. It shows the star-making region of dust and gas pillars that was appropriately nicknamed Mystic Mountain.
This region of the Carina Nebula is called Trumpler 14. It is a star cluster that contains some of the brightest stars in our galaxy.