Infrared Legacy


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This region, also known as the Carina Nebula (after the constellation in which it lies) and NGC 3372, is host to intense star formation. Having started up a mere 3 million years ago, making it very young by astronomical standards, it continues to produce a variety of stars, many quite massive.

Of particular interest is the very bright star embedded in the lower left portion of the nebula. Dubbed (Eta) Carinae, this young star is about as massive as 100 suns! As such it is one of the most massive stars known in the entire Milky Way Galaxy. Such giant stars do not live long, however. In the not too distant future this star is likely to end its life with a giant supernova explosion.

Image credit: 2MASS/G. Kopan