The inner Homunculus Nebula
AAO image reference AAT 45.    « Previous || Next »

The Homunculus Nebula, Carina nebula, NGC 3372 ngc3372.jpg, homunculus.jpg
Top left is NE. Image width is about 80 arcsec.
Image and text © 1985-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.


The gigantic Carina nebula is in the large southern constellation of Carina in a rich part of the Milky Way and at a distance of about 7000 light years. In 1834, the star Eta Carinae was seen as one of the brightest stars in the southern sky, rivaling Sirius. Only a few years later it had faded by more than seven magnitudes and was no longer visible without a telescope. The sudden brightening of the star is thought to be the result of a massive explosion which ejected a substantial shell of material from its surface. As the shell expanded the star appeared to brighten until the shell itself cooled, dimmed and finally became opaque, hiding the light of the star inside.

After 150 years of expansion at 700 kilometers per second, we now see the shell as a tiny, orange-red manikin-shaped nebula. Though optically quite faint, Eta Carinae is hot, and is one of the brightest objects in the infrared sky, poised for an exciting future.

Related Images
AAT 9.    The Eta Carina Nebula
AAT 32.  Eta Carina and the Keyhole nebula
AAT 37.  The Eta Carina nebula and Trumpler 14
UKS 6.   The Great Nebula in Carina. NGC 3372
UKS 6a.  The Great Nebula in Carina, NGC 3372 (wide field)
UKS 41   The elemental structure of the Carina Nebula (emission lines)
Constellation of Carina (external site)

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1