The Gucci Brothers must be absolutely jealous of the fireworks display by the double star system Eta Carinae, which has been going on for 170 years, 7,500 light years from Earth. NASA has released photos taken by the Hubble Telescope of the exploded star system, which will eventually go supernova and will put on a display that will indeed be the ultimate in fireworks. Eta Carinae has been the second brightest star in the sky and has been used by ship captains as a means of navigation. When the orbits of the planets were altered, it created a collision that lit up the night sky and has continued for the past 170 years.
In a post on their website on Monday, NASA said that the display from Eta Carinae “takes the shape of a pair of ballooning lobes of dust and gas and other filaments that were blown out from the petulant star.”
And what a star: At its biggest, the star could have had the heft of over 150 of our suns.
Discovered in 1677, Eta Carinae became the subject of much scientific speculation during the 1840s when an event called the Great Eruption became visible to those of us on Earth.
During this time, the star was so bright — the second-brightest star in all the sky, in fact — that it was used as a navigational aid by sailors.
“Scientists have long known that the outer material thrown off in the 1840s eruption has been heated by shock waves after crashing into the doomed star’s previously ejected material,” the post read.
“We’ve discovered a large amount of warm gas that was ejected in the Great Eruption but hasn’t yet collided with the other material surrounding Eta Carinae,” Nathan Smith, lead investigator for the Hubble program, said.
“Most of the emission is located where we expected to find an empty cavity. This extra material is fast, and it ‘ups the ante’ in terms of the total energy for an already powerful stellar blast.”
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