S
T
A
R
S

Return

The large column of dust and gas shown in the photo is called 'Mystic Mountain', a feature within the larger Carina Nebula (NGC 3372). At the tip of the column, a young protostar (a star whose core is not yet stably fusing hydrogen atoms into helium) expels enormous jets of superheated gas and dust. Protostars are very unstable as the pull of gravity and the expanding pressure of heat from the core struggle for balance. The pillars you see here have been carved out of the Carina Nebula by the winds from young stars, in much the same way that winds sculpt Earth's landscape.

  • Constellation: Carina (the Keel),
    Southern Hemisphere
  • 7,500 light years from Earth
  • 1.2 - 2.3 light years in size

Next

Carina Nebula NGC 3372

Photo credit: Mario Livio, Hubble 20th Anniversary Team; NASA/ESA/STScI