Looking like a Tolkienesque painting by John Howe or Alan Lee, this pillar of dust in the Carina Nebula (called the Mystic Mountain) is being assaulted from without and within.
Newly born stars inside are trying to ‘break free’. Their radiation is shaping and compressing the gas. Resulting jets of gas are streaming off the visible surface, while the intense starlight that bathes the Mystic Mountain from outside is corroding it.
Unfortunately the nebula is not really this colourful – the nebula is presented in false colour. Oxygen is colour-coded as blue, sulphur as red, and hydrogen and nitrogen as green.
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