This spectacular Hubble photo shows a star about to explode

Jul 10, 2023

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

This spectacular Hubble photo shows a star about to explode

Jul 10, 2023

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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If you were to describe the photo that the Hubble Space Telescope recently captured of Eta Carinae, “breathtaking” might be an understatement. It’s not only that the photo itself grabbed my attention as soon as I looked at it, but also its subject is something quite extraordinary. The thing is – Eta Carinae is about to explode. Its mass, roughly a hundred times that of our Sun, makes it a prime candidate for a supernova explosion.

The star is nestled in the Keyhole Nebula, famous for its peculiar structure and colorful gas clouds. Interestingly enough, astronomers can’t pinpoint exactly when the cosmic firework will go off. It could be as soon as next year… But it could also be a million years from now. The unpredictability adds both mystery and tension to this spectacular image, but also makes astronomers observe it more closely in the years to come.

According to NASA, historical records show that Eta Carinae had an unusually bright outburst 170 years ago. Today, it’s noted as the only star we think emits natural LASER light. This Hubble image shows the distinctive Homunculus Nebula with two lobes of dust and gas surrounding Eta Carinae’s hot center. These lobes absorb the star’s blue and ultraviolet light, creating a vivid contrast.

The bright multi-colored streaks shooting from Eta Carinae’s center are diffraction spikes caused by the telescope itself. But to add to the mystery, there are also some strange radial streaks visible in red extending toward the image right.

So, Eta Carinae proves to be more than just a star. It’s a cosmic ticking time bomb, a natural LASER, and the heart of a stunning nebula. The Hubble Space Telescope captured it marvelously, and I wonder when, indeed, the celestial spectacle will take place.

[via APOD, image credits: NASAESAHubble; Processing & LicenseJudy Schmidt]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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