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Star Eta and the "Keyhole" in the Carina Nebula
This is a colorful close-up view of the Great Carina Nebula (NGC 3372), famous star-forming region of the southern sky. Covering an area surrounding the dusty Keyhole Nebula (NGC 3324) to the left, the image spans about 20 light-years within the larger Carina Nebula at an estimated distance of 7,500 light-years. Like the more northerly Orion Nebula, the bright Carina Nebula is easily visible to the naked-eye.
The Carina Nebula is home to young, extremely massive stars, including the still enigmatic variable Eta Carinae, a star with well over 100 times the mass of the Sun. Eta is highlighted by diffraction spikes to the left of the Keyhole.
The dramatic colors in this telescopic picture are mapped colors, based on three exposures through narrow filters each intended to record the light emitted by specific atoms in the gaseous nebula. Sulfur is shown in blue, hydrogen in green and oxygen in red hues.