This is a very young star cluster located within the Carina nebula. These are newly formed stars and we are peering at them through a reddening nebula of dust and gas. The longpass near-infrared filter cuts through much of the nebula and reveals many apparently dimmer stars as reddish pinpricks of light. I have adjusted the colors so that the brighter, whiter stars and their surroundings appear bluer because this is a young cluster. In reality, they are at least a little reddened.
Another interesting view of this cluster was done using the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory. I think it is a great example of the power of adaptive optics. You can use that funny string of six stars in the middle right to help orient yourself.
There is an interesting arc of cloud at the bottom edge of the frame. A paper discussing its possible nature is available.
Many long hours were spent carefully removing charge bleeds to the best of my ability. The closeness of the stars to one another meant that there was much overlapping of diffraction spikes and charge bleeds which compounded the situation. Not the hardest thing in the world to deal with but it is tedious and I found it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time on the task. Cosmic rays are easier. I can throw on some music and zone out while dotting them away. There were a few very nasty filter ghosts that had to be dealt with. I ended up using the Ha data, which had no such problems, to compensate for these large anomalies in the green and blue channels. This is not an ideal solution but it is better than nothing and it is also a little better than what I usually do, which is to manually darken them with a masked curves adjustment layer. The problem is that the Ha of course looks very little like an f550m or f435w filter except for the placement of the stars and some vague details of the nebula. In particular, it was very helpful in clearly revealing that nice, dark globule which was severely compromised. Anyway, I did the best that I could.
Red: HST_10602_a1_ACS_WFC_F850LP_sci + hlsp_carina_hst_acs-wfc_14_f658n_v1_sci_sci
North is NOT up. It is 31.2° counterclockwise from up.
Hubble data is public domain, but I put a lot of work into combining it into beautiful color images. The minimal credit line should read: NASA / ESA / J. Schmidt
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.