Hubble has captured image of a dying star 7,500 light years away
NASA says that Eta Carinae exploded in 1838 and the explosion is termed as the Great Eruption.
The space and universe surrounding us is weird and amazing. Sometimes, we see events that surprise us, and other times, we’re just filled with awe at the infinite possibilities.
Scientists have captured an image of a double star system called Eta Carinae using NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope. It is the highest resolution image of the solar system captured by Hubble. And it looks as if celebrations are on in Eta Carinae.
Eta Carinae is a stellar system, located more than 7,500 light years in constellation Carina from us. It has two stars in its system.
NASA says that Eta Carinae exploded in 1838 and the explosion is termed as the Great Eruption. It expanded and became the second brightest star in our sky by 1844. The star faded after the Great Eruption but this new image taken by Hubble, reveals unknown details that scientists were not able to observe earlier. Hubble has been following it since 1990.
The image that has been captured is the signature of the Great Eruption on its surroundings.
Just to compare its brightness, the brightest star visible from earth during its explosion was Sirius. It is expected to be one thousand times closer to Earth than Eta Carinae.
A recent theory related to Eta Carinae suggests that it might have weighed as much as 150 copies of our Sun would. And the explosion that scientists observed might have occurred because the primary in the solar system ate one of its companions. This phenomenon ejected a mass of around 10 suns in the space around the star.
What does the image mean?
Scientists expect that the blast that happened in 1844 was caused because the life of a bigger star in the stellar system was coming to an end. And as we know, stars shine brightly before completely dying.
“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,” explained Nathan Smith of Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, lead investigator of the Hubble program.
The firework like image that we see is formed of dust and gas and other filaments that were hurled into space in the expulsion. The red, white and blue colour represents the expanding gases that constitute the star. The glowing cloud is also called Homunculus Nebula.
But how is this new image useful?
The information from new image will help us understand the reason behind the eruption. But, scientists need more information to measure the speed and time at which the materials were flowing out.
The image was captured in ultraviolet. Researchers say that this technique of searching in ultraviolet light for warm gas could be used to study other stars and gaseous nebulae.
“We’re excited by the prospect that this type of ultraviolet magnesium emission may also expose previously hidden gas in other types of objects that eject material, such as protostars or other dying stars; and only Hubble can take these kinds of pictures” said Smith.
Scientists say that the exact reason of Great Eruption remains a subject of speculation and debate.
One such speculation is that it might have exploded as supernova. It is an explosion that occurs at the end of the lifecycle of a star.
They also expect that the explosion might already have happened, but we are not able to see it because the light from such a blast would take 7,500 years to reach Earth.