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NGC 3372 - a mosaic the the large Eta Carinae Nebula

Description of object:

NGC 3372 is located in the Carinae Arm of the Milky Way and is one of the brightest and most aesthetic H-II emission nebulae and star formation regions in the entire sky. The distance is not exactly known, the data vary between 7500 and 10000 light years. It covers an apparent size of 2.5° x 2.5° in the sky, converted to a distance of 8000 light years this is 350 x 350 light years. This is significantly larger than the Orion Nebula, which extends to just 40 light years. NGC 3372 is already clearly visible to the naked eye.

A large number of young open star clusters with hot blue stars, among them Collinder 228, 232 and 234, Trumpler 14, 15 and 16 as well as Bochum 10 and 11, provide the strong UV radiation to ionize the hydrogen gas and thus stimulate it to glow.

The best known single object in the Carinae Nebula is the variable star ? (Eta) Carinae, which is part of the open cluster Trumpler 16. Directly southwest of it lies "Herschels Keyhole Nebula".

Eta Carinae has an turbulent history behind it. At the moment it has a brightness of the 6th magnitude. In 1843 it had a brightness of -0.8 magnitudes and in the following 25 years the brightness decreased rapidly. At the following turn of the century the brightness decreased up to the 8th magnitude and since then it slowly increases again. By the outburst of 1843 the Homunculus Nebula was formed from the ejecta of the star. Eta Carinae is definitely a double star system, new researches even suggest a triple system. The star system is highly unstable and definitely a "hot" candidate for a supernova explosions in the near future.

Although the nebula is one of the brightest objects in the night sky, it was documented late because of its extremely southern position in the sky. The first reference to the H-II region was published by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1751/52 on a voyage to the Cape of Good Hope. He catalogued the Nebula as Lacaille III.6.

You can find more images and detailed information of NGC 3372 from us here ... Detailed central area of the Carinae Nebula and Herschel's Keyhole Nebula and Eta Carinae, the Homunculus Nebula and the open star clusters Trumpler 14 and 16.

A high-resolution image of the open star cluster NGC 3293 shown here ... and the emission nebula NGC 3324 here.

« Click here or the thumbnail to load a large annoted image of NGC 3372

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