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Hubble's Wide View of the 'Mystic Mountain'
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Name: HH 901 and HH 902 in the Carina Nebula
Description: Carina Nebula Star-forming Pillars & Herbig-Haro Objects with Jets
Position (J2000): RA 10h 44m 05s.25  Dec. -59° 29' 45".00
Constellation: Carina
Distance: 7,500 light-years (2,300 parsecs)
Dimensions: 84 arcseconds (3.1 light-years or 0.94 parsec) wide.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, & M. Livio & the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team   (STScI)
Release Date: April 22, 2010

Details:     Closeup     Comparison     WideView

Other:  2000  2007  2009a  2009b  2010  2011a  2011b  2012a  2012b  2018
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This is the widest view of the Mystic Mountain area within the Carina Nebula. This craggy fantasy mountaintop enshrouded by wispy clouds looks like a bizarre landscape from Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" or a Dr. Seuss book, depending on your imagination. The NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, which is even more dramatic than fiction, captures the chaotic activity atop a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks.

This turbulent cosmic pinnacle lies within a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. The image celebrates the 20th anniversary of Hubble's launch and deployment into an orbit around Earth.

Scorching radiation and fast winds (streams of charged particles) from super-hot newborn stars in the nebula are shaping and compressing the pillar, causing new stars to form within it. Streamers of hot ionized gas can be seen flowing off the ridges of the structure, and wispy veils of gas and dust, illuminated by starlight, float around its towering peaks. The denser parts of the pillar are resisting being eroded by radiation much like a towering butte in Utah's Monument Valley withstands erosion by water and wind.

Nestled inside this dense mountain are fledgling stars. Long streamers of gas can be seen shooting in opposite directions off the pedestal at the top of the image. Another pair of jets is visible at another peak near the center of the image. These jets (known as HH 901 and HH 902, respectively) are the signpost for new star birth. The jets are launched by swirling disks around the young stars, which allow material to slowly accrete onto the stars' surfaces.

Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed the pillar on Feb. 1-2, 2010. The colors in this composite image correspond to the glow of oxygen (blue), hydrogen and nitrogen (green), and sulfur (red).

This image is a composite of separate exposures made by the WFC3 instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Each filter was used to sample a narrow wavelength range over a broad range of the visible colors. The composite color results from assigning different hues (colors) to each monochromatic (grayscale) image associated with an individual filter. In this case, the assigned colors are:

     WFC3/UVIS (Visible)                                     WFC3/IR (Infrared)
        F673N ([S II]) - red                                        F126N ([Fe II]) - red
        F657N (H-alpha+[N II]) - green                       F128N (Paschen-beta) - green
        F502N ([O III]) - blue                                     F164N ([Fe II]) - blue