Hubble Captures the Galaxy’s Biggest Ongoing Stellar Fireworks Show
Imagine slow-motion fireworks that started exploding 170 years ago and are still continuing. This type of firework is not launched into Earth's atmosphere, but rather into space by a doomed super-massive star, called Eta Carinae, the largest member of a double-star system. A new view from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which includes ultraviolet light, shows the star's hot, expanding gases glowing in red, white and blue. The stellar behemoth will eventually reach its fireworks show finale when it explodes as a supernova.
Using Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 to map the ultraviolet-light glow of magnesium embedded in warm gas (shown in blue), astronomers were surprised to discover the gas in places they had not seen it before. The team had expected to find light from magnesium coming from the same complicated array of filaments as seen in the glowing nitrogen (shown in red). Their unanticipated findings could reveal more about how the eruption began as well as shine light on studying other stars and gaseous nebulas.
Credits: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of Arizona) and J. Morse (BoldlyGo Institute)
Read more: go.nasa.gov/326NxzF
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.
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