Monday, March 27, 2006

Doomed Star Eta Carinae

Credit: J. Morse (Arizona State U.), K. Davidson (U. Minnesota) et al., WFPC2, HST, NASA

Explanation: Eta Carinae may be about to explode. But no one knows when - it may be next year, it may be one million years from now. Eta Carinae's mass - about 100 times greater than our Sun - makes it an excellent candidate for a full blown supernova. Historical records do show that about 150 years ago Eta Carinae underwent an unusual outburst that made it one of the brightest stars in the southern sky. Eta Carinae, in the Keyhole Nebula, is the only star currently thought to emit natural LASER light. This image, taken in 1996, resulted from sophisticated image-processing procedures designed to bring out new details in the unusual nebula that surrounds this rogue star. Now clearly visible are two distinct lobes, a hot central region, and strange radial streaks. The lobes are filled with lanes of gas and dust which absorb the blue and ultraviolet light emitted near the center. The streaks remain unexplained. Will these clues tell us how the nebula was formed? Will they better indicate when Eta Carinae will explode?

8 comments:

TheJollyNihilist said...

Wow...I hadn't heard about that before. Thanks for the pic, and all the information. It amazes me that so few people are actively interested in the universe in which we live. Remember, in all likelihood, it was an asteroid that extincted the dinosaurs. If only for self-preservation, we need to keep an eye toward the stars.

Stardust said...

Thanks for stopping by frances. I put a link to your blog...hope you don't mind.

I think the universe is fascinating and there is so much we don't know, and so much that we will never know. I wish I could live about a thousand years to see what transpires, but alas we will have to leave that to our descendants, if people don't manage to destroy the planet before then.

Stardust said...

They look like a couple of connected cosmic corpuscles, don't they?

Sportin' Life said...

Hi Stardust, I appreciate the link in your blogroll--thank you.

This is a great site you've got going!

Stardust said...

sportin life...thanks!

You have a great blog, as well.

MichaelBains said...

Wow!

That is incredibly beautiful!

You do come up with awesome pics nicely phrased thoughts Stardust'.

Keep 'em coming!

MichaelBains said...

Oops, forgot an "and". {-; C ya!

Stardust said...

michaelbains -
Thanks for the compliments. I do much of my own writing on this blog, but I should point out that I get my NASA information directly from NASA's website. Photos as well. So the text you read is taken from that site. I don't want someone accusing me of plagerizing and taking credit for what someone else has written, so to be safe I always provide the credit links under the photos.