Hubble: The Galaxy's Biggest Ongoing Stellar Fireworks Show

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Hubble: The Galaxy's Biggest Ongoing Stellar Fireworks Show

Post by bystander » Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:42 pm

Hubble Captures the Galaxy's Biggest Ongoing Stellar Fireworks Show
NASA | GSFC | STScI | HubbleSite | 2019 July 01
stsci-h-p1918a-f.jpg
This Hubble image of the giant, petulant star Eta Carinae is yielding new surprises.
Credits: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (Univ of Arizona) and J. Morse (BoldlyGo Institute)

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. Eta Carinae resides 7,500 light-years away.

The celestial outburst takes the shape of a pair of ballooning lobes of dust and gas and other filaments that were blown out from the petulant star. The star may have initially weighed more than 150 Suns. For decades, astronomers have speculated about whether it is on the brink of total destruction.

The fireworks started in the 1840s when Eta Carinae went through a titanic outburst, called the Great Eruption, making it the second-brightest star visible in the sky for over a decade. Eta Carinae, in fact, was so bright that for a time it became an important navigational star for mariners in the southern seas.

The star has faded since that eruption and is now barely visible to the unaided eye. But the fireworks aren't over yet because Eta Carinae still survives. Astronomers have used almost every instrument on Hubble over the past 25 years to study the rambunctious star.

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. ...
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Hubble Captures Cosmic Fireworks in Ultraviolet

Post by bystander » Mon Jul 01, 2019 4:40 pm

Hubble Captures Cosmic Fireworks in Ultraviolet
ESA Hubble Photo Release | 2019 July 01

Hubble offers a special view of the double star system Eta Carinae’s expanding gases glowing in red, white, and blue. This is the highest resolution image of Eta Carinae taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
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Re: Hubble: The Galaxy's Biggest Ongoing Stellar Fireworks Show

Post by Ann » Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:45 pm

This is a mostly ultraviolet picture, taken through two ultraviolet filters and one red optical filter. The filters were 280 nm (apparently ionized magnesium), mapped as blue, 336 nm (near ultraviolet, mapped as green) and 658 nm, ionized nitrogen, mapped as red (and being truly red, too).
Spacetelescope wrote:

The streaks visible in the blue region outside the lower-left lobe are a striking feature of the image. These streaks are created when the star’s light rays poke through the dust clumps scattered along the bubble’s surface. Wherever the ultraviolet light strikes the dense dust, it leaves a long, thin shadow that extends beyond the lobe into the surrounding gas.
Ann
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