Science

Hubble Space Telescope Captures Beautiful Intergalactic Fireworks

According to the online publication Science Alert, Eta Carinae is a binary star 7,500 light-years away which is indeed pretty massive.

Violent mass ejections are not uncommon in Eta Carinae's history; the system has been blighted by chaotic eruptions, often blasting parts of itself into space But the Great Eruption was particularly dramatic.

Thanks to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and its Wide Field Camera 3 instrument, we now have a clearer image of the collision. This magnificent photo includes ultraviolet light, and it shows the star's hot, expanding gases glowing in red, white and blue. The team who captured this new image was expecting to find light from magnesium coming from the complicated array of filaments seen in the light from glowing nitrogen (shown in red).

The blue outer streaks in the image outside the lower left lobe were created when the star's light rays poke through the dust clumps scattered around the surface of the bubbles. The ballooning lobes are made of dust and gas along with other filaments blown out of the exploding star. Of the two stars in its system, one is a big star that approaching the end of its lifespan, which makes it exceedingly unstable.

By the way, astronomers are unable to predict exactly when Eta Carinae will blow since the collision is still ongoing for us. It blasted a bunch of material out into space, as much as 40 times the mass of the Sun, and that material surrounds the stars as the Homunculus Nebula.

This technique of searching in ultraviolet light for warm gas could be used to study other stars and gaseous nebulae, the researchers say. Eta Carinae, in fact, was so bright that for a time it became an important navigational star for mariners in the southern seas. With the Colossal Eruption moniker already taken, astronomers would possibly want to score inventive when naming that account hide of cosmic fireworks. "But this new ultraviolet-light image looks astonishingly different, revealing gas we did not see in other visible-light or infrared images".

The image can help scientists to understand how the eruption began. The wayward light was heading away from our planet when it bounced off dust clouds lingering far from the turbulent stars and was rerouted to Earth, an effect called a "light echo".

While the "fireworks" have been going on for nearly two centuries, the finale will occur when the system completely explodes into a supernova that will far outshine the Great Eruption. Eventually, the star will become a supernova, which might have already happened, and we just haven't seen the light.

The Hubble space telescope is still orbiting and looking at the incredible events that are happening in the universe around us.



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