New Images of Carina Nebula Reveal ‘Pillars of Destruction’

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Colorful new images of the Carina Nebula, a massive stellar nursery 7,500 light-years from Earth, reveal that new star births are destroying the very clouds of gas and dust from which they spawned.

Long, finger-like pillars and spires made of cosmic gas and dust protrude into space from all over the Carina Nebula. New images from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile show some of these pillars in unprecedented detail.

A team of researchers led by Anna McLeod, a doctoral student at ESO, captured the images with the telescope’s Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument, which can turn observations made from Earth into 3D images.

Clouds of hydrogen gas and dust in space provide great places for new stars to form. But when massive stars form, they betray their home nebula by bombarding it with damaging radiation.

The radiation is so strong that it strips atoms of their electrons and causes the gas to disperse. This process is called photoevaporation, and it’s destroying the Carina Nebula and its pillars.

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SOURCE: Space.com, Hanneke Weitering