Large-scale structure of the Carina Nebula

Nathan Smith, Michael P. Egan, Sean Carey, Stephan D. Price, Jon A. Morse, Paul A. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Observations obtained with the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) satellite reveal for the first time the complex mid-infrared morphology of the entire Carina Nebula (NGC 3372). On the largest size scale of ∼100 pc, the thermal infrared emission from the giant H II region delineates one coherent structure: a (somewhat distorted) bipolar nebula with the major axis perpendicular to the Galactic plane. The Carina Nebula is usually described as an evolved H II region that is no longer actively forming stars, clearing away the last vestiges of its natal molecular cloud. However, the MSX observations presented here reveal numerous embedded infrared sources that are good candidates for sites of current star formation. Several compact infrared sources are located at the heads of dust pillars or in dark globules behind ionization fronts. Because their morphology suggests a strong interaction with the peculiar collection of massive stars in the nebula, we speculate that these new infrared sources may be sites of triggered star formation in NGC 3372.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L145-L148
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2000


  • H II regions
  • ISM: individual (Carina Nebula)
  • Stars: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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