NIRCam Compass Image of the “Cosmic Cliffs” in Carina

Stsci_2022-031c_1024

stsci_2022-031c July 12th, 2022

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

What looks much like craggy mountains on a moonlit evening is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals previously obscured areas of star birth.

Called the Cosmic Cliffs, the region is actually the edge of a gigantic, gaseous cavity within NGC 3324, 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. Several prominent features in this image are described below.

• The “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.

• Dramatic 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.

• A “blow-out” erupts at the top-center of the ridge, spewing gas and dust into the interstellar medium.

• An unusual “arch” appears, looking like a bent-over cylinder.

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.

Located roughly 7,600 light-years away, 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.

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/

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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

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 10h 36m 51.0s
DEC = -58° 37’ 12.1”
Constellation
Carina

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue Webb (NIRCAM) Infrared 900.0 nm
Cyan Webb (NICRAM) Infrared 1.9 µm
Green Webb (NIRCAM) Infrared 2.0 µm
Yellow Webb (NIRCAM) Infrared 4.7 µm
Orange Webb (NIRCAM) Infrared 3.4 µm
Red Webb (NIRCAM) Infrared 4.4 µm
Spectrum_base
Blue
Cyan
Green
Yellow
Orange
Red
Stsci_2022-031c_1280
×
ID
2022-031c
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
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
Instrument
NIRCAM, NICRAM, NIRCAM, NIRCAM, NIRCAM, NIRCAM
Color Assignment
Blue, Cyan, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
900, 1870, 2000, 4700, 3350, 4440
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
2000.0
Reference Value
159.21261854583, -58.62001801087
Reference Dimension
Reference Pixel
Scale
Rotation
Coordinate System Projection:
Quality
Position
FITS Header
Notes
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-p22031c-f-14575x11227.tif
Metadata Date
2022-07-05
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
7,600 light years