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Object description
The star Eta Carina and the open star cluster Trumpler 16

Short objekt description:

Our image shows the open star cluster Trumpler 16 with its most prominent member, the star Eta Carina. The raw sum images were only exposed briefly for this image to prevent overexposure of the bright stars of the cluster. In addition, this also avoided overexposure of the bright nebulae in which the star cluster is embedded.

Trumpler 16 is an extremely massive open star cluster, in which some of the most luminous stars (together with Trumpler 14, top right in the image) of our Milky Way can be found. The cluster is about 9,500 light years from the Solar System and the stars are only about 10 million years old.

The brightest members of the cluster are the stars Eta Carinae and WR 25 (a Wolf Rayet star), whose luminosity is several million times that of the Sun. There are three other extremely blue stars of spectral class O 3. Eta Carinae and WR 25 are both binary stars whose main components each contribute most to the luminosity, but whose companions are themselves more massive and brighter than most of the stars in the cluster.

Trumpler 16 and Trumpler 14 are the most significant star clusters in Carina OB1, an extensive star association in the Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way. Another cluster, Collinder 228 (25 arc minutes south of Eta Carina), is thought to be an outlier of Trumpler 16, separated only visually from an intervening dust band. The spectral types of the stars of Trumpler 16 and Collinder 228 indicate a single star-forming wave.

Eta Carina is an extremely unstable star and one of the main candidates for the next supernova explosion in our Milky Way. We describe it in detail on this website.

A general overview of the Carina Nebula in a mosaic view is shown here.

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