The Eta Carina Nebula (NGC 3372) surrounds several open clusters of stars, including Eta Carinae and HD 93129A, two of the most massive and luminous stars in the Milky Way. The Eta Carina Nebula lies between 6,500 and 10,000 light-years from Earth and appears in the constellation of Carina, in the Carina-Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way.
This photo was obtained by ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile with its brand new VLT Survey Telescope. Just a portion of the image is shown in these captures. The 2.6-meter VLT and the 268-megapixel OmegaCAM camera, the observatory is able to capture large swaths of sky at the same time without any stitching needed. The ESO states that it’s the largest telescope in the world exclusively dedicated to surveying the sky at visible wavelengths. The nebula is a star formation region.
The image was taken on June 5 2012, and released on the occasion of the new telescope’s inauguration in Naples on December 6 2012.
The Eta Carina Nebula is one of the largest diffuse nebulae in the visible sky and although it’s fou times as large and brighter than the Orion Nebula, it’s less well known because it’s located far in the Souther Hemisphere. It was originally discovered by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1751-1752 from the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.