The Carina Nebula is a cosmic ice sculptureS

7500 light-years from Earth, the radiation of nearby stars is carving the cold molecular clouds of the Carina nebula into these strange, fantastical shapes. It's a bit like carving ice figures here on Earth...except these sculptures are one light-year tall.

These figures are composed of cold hydrogen atoms and dust molecules. A mix of extreme stellar winds and strong radiation bursts from nearby stars is shaping the nebula, creating these weird structures. Inside these figures, new stars are hopefully forming.

The image you see here spans about 12 light-years. You can click on it for a closer look, and you can also check out this cool, silent tour of the nebula below:

[Hubble]