Eta Carinae Nebula in mapped color

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clic here for 60% size 2250 x 1550 (1600 kB)

About this Image

The super massive star Eta Carinae is embedded in a huge gas and dust cloud. It is situated approx. 7,500 light-years away. Eta Carinae suffered a giant outburst in the year 1841, when it became one of the brightest stars in the southern sky. Though the star released as much visible light as a supernova explosion, it survived the outburst.

Such large stars are very unstable. The expelled gas that creates the spectacular nebula (NGC 3372) emitting light in different colors according the ionized elements, that we see today. The gas shell is moving outward at about 1.5 million miles per hour. The whole nebula spans 300 light years.

This image has been taken with narrowband filters. According to the Hubble palette Sulphur-II is assigned to red, H-alpha to green and Oxygen-III to blue.
North is right.

Below you see the center crop of the above image in 44/100% size showing the famous Keyhole Nebula (NGC 3324) close to the bright star Eta-Carina.

Checkout a flash animation blending the normal image with the mapped one: here (press F11 for full screen).

clic for 100% size 1700 x 1400 (735 kB)

Technical Details


TEC-140 APO refractor with TEC flattener at f/7

Mount AP-400 GEM
Camera SBIG STL-11000M at -20C, internal filter wheel
Filters Astronomik H-alpha, S-II, O-III (15 nm)
Date May 30, 2006.
Location Hakos/Namibia
Sky Conditions mag 7, high transparency, temperature 15 C,
Exposure S-II:Ha:O-III = 90:90:90 minutes (30-minute sub-exposures),
all 1x1.
Processing Image aquisition, calibration and color synthesis in Maxim DL 4.11;
Photoshop: curves, mild unsharp mask, color balance, star color handling, Ha additionally used as 40% L channel;