Combined NIRCam and MIRI Image of the “Cosmic Cliffs” in Carina

Stsci_2022-031b_1024

stsci_2022-031b July 12th, 2022

Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team

Astronomers using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope combined the capabilities of the telescope’s two cameras to create a never-before-seen view of a star-forming region in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), this combined image reveals previously invisible areas of star birth.

What looks much like craggy mountains on a moonlit evening is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region known as NGC 3324. Called the Cosmic Cliffs, this rim of a gigantic, gaseous cavity is roughly 7,600 light-years away.

The cavernous area has been carved from the nebula by the intense ultraviolet radiation and stellar winds from extremely massive, hot, young stars located in the center of the bubble, above the area shown in this image. The high-energy radiation from these stars is sculpting the nebula’s wall by slowly eroding it away.

NIRCam – with its crisp resolution and unparalleled sensitivity – unveils hundreds of previously hidden stars, and even numerous background galaxies. In MIRI’s view, young stars and their dusty, planet-forming disks shine brightly in the mid-infrared, appearing pink and red. MIRI reveals structures that are embedded in the dust and uncovers the stellar sources of massive jets and outflows. With MIRI, the organic, soot-like material on the surface of the ridges glows, giving the appearance of jagged rocks.

Several prominent features in this image are described below.

• The faint “steam” that appears to rise from the celestial “mountains” is actually hot, ionized gas and hot dust streaming away from the nebula due to intense, ultraviolet radiation.

• Peaks and pillars rise above the glowing wall of gas, resisting the blistering ultraviolet radiation from the young stars.

• Bubbles and cavities are being blown by the intense radiation and stellar winds of newborn stars.

• Protostellar jets and outflows, which appear in gold, shoot from dust-enshrouded, nascent stars. MIRI uncovers the young, stellar sources producing these features. For example, a feature at left that looks like a comet with NIRCam is revealed with MIRI to be one cone of an outflow from a dust-enshrouded, newborn star.

• A “blow-out” erupts at the top-center of the ridge, spewing material into the interstellar medium. MIRI sees through the dust to unveil the star responsible for this phenomenon.

• An unusual “arch,” looking like a bent-over cylinder, appears in all wavelengths shown here.

This period of very early star formation is difficult to capture because, for an individual star, it lasts only about 50,000 to 100,000 years – but Webb’s extreme sensitivity and exquisite spatial resolution have chronicled this rare event.

NGC 3324 was first catalogued by James Dunlop in 1826. Visible from the Southern Hemisphere, it is located at the northwest corner of the Carina Nebula (NGC 3372), which resides in the constellation Carina. The Carina Nebula is home to the Keyhole Nebula and the active, unstable supergiant star called Eta Carinae.

NIRCam was built by a team at the University of Arizona and Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center.

MIRI was contributed by ESA and NASA, with the instrument designed and built by a consortium of nationally funded European Institutes (The MIRI European Consortium) in partnership with JPL and the University of Arizona.

Provider: Space Telescope Science Institute

Image Source: https://webbtelescope.org/contents/news-releases/2022/news-2022-031

Curator: STScI, Baltimore, MD, USA

Image Use Policy: http://hubblesite.org/copyright/

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
NGC 3324 Carina Nebula
Subject - Local Universe
Nebula > Type > Star Formation
Nebula > Appearance > Emission

Distance

Universescale1
7,600 light years
Stsci_2022-031b_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 10h 36m 51.0s
DEC = -58° 37’ 12.1”
Orientation
North is 117.8° CW
Field of View
5.6 x 2.0 arcminutes
Constellation
Carina

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue Webb (NIRCAM) Infrared 900.0 nm
Green Webb (NICRAM) Infrared 2.0 µm
Red Webb (NIRCAM) Infrared 4.4 µm
Purple Webb (MIRI) Infrared 7.7 µm
Cyan Webb (MIRI) Infrared 11.3 µm
Green Webb (MIRI) Infrared 12.8 µm
Red Webb (MIRI) Infrared 18.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Blue
Green
Red
Purple
Cyan
Green
Red
Stsci_2022-031b_1280
×
ID
2022-031b
Subject Category
C.4.1.2   C.4.2.1  
Subject Name
NGC 3324, Carina Nebula
Credits
NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team
Release Date
2022-07-12T11:00:00
Lightyears
7,600
Redshift
7,600
Reference Url
https://webbtelescope.org/contents/news-releases/2022/news-2022-031
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Distance in lightyears
Facility
Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb
Instrument
NIRCAM, NICRAM, NIRCAM, MIRI, MIRI, MIRI, MIRI
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red, Purple, Cyan, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
900, 2000, 4440, 7700, 11300, 12800, 18000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
2000.0
Reference Value
159.21261854583, -58.62001801087
Reference Dimension
11264.00, 3904.00
Reference Pixel
4755.27880984082, 2472.51903498001
Scale
-0.00000835060, 0.00000835060
Rotation
-117.84919767707
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
World Coordinate System resolved using PinpointWCS 0.9.2 revision 218+ by the Chandra X-ray Center FITS X FITS Y EPO X EPO Y 1286.76 863.42 3184.15 1088.78 785.63 1345.49 956.44 2324.23 2875.77 799.87 8875.75 2350.84 2099.88 989.25 5944.01 2292.26 2986.60 237.11 9795.32 461.97 Center Pixel Coordinates: 5632.00 159.21180059922 1952.00 -58.61152763151
Creator (Curator)
STScI
URL
http://hubblesite.org
Name
Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach
Email
outreach@stsci.edu
Telephone
410-338-4444
Address
3700 San Martin Drive
City
Baltimore
State/Province
MD
Postal Code
21218
Country
USA
Rights
http://hubblesite.org/copyright/
Publisher
STScI
Publisher ID
stsci
Resource ID
STSCI-J-p22031b-f-11264x3904.tif
Metadata Date
2022-07-08T13:55:49-04:00
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
7,600 light years