The Hubble Space Telescope of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has captured a spectacular picture of a super-massive star named as ‘Eta Carinae’ exploding in slow motion. The picture that was captured by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3, includes ultraviolet light and shows the star's hot, expanding gases glowing in red, white and blue.
It is to be noted that Eta Carinae is the largest member of a double-star system, and is thought to have initially weighed more than 150 Suns. It first erupted 170 years ago and was the second-brightest star in our sky for a little more than a decade. However, over time, the star has slowly faded and become harder to see with the naked eye.
Take a look:
According to a statement by NASA, Hubble has observed the star for 25 years. “Recently, astronomers used its Wide Field Camera 3 to map the ultraviolet light glow of magnesium embedded in warm gas, and found the gas in places where it had not been before,” NASA said.
“This newly discovered gas may have been ejected from the star right before it expelled the bipolar lobes on either of its sides, and is therefore crucial in understanding how the star's eruption began,” NASA noted.
“Eta Carinae is known for its eruptions, which may be due to there being three stars being gravitationally bound within the same system, and will likely die in a supernova explosion,” the US space agency concluded.
"We had used Hubble for decades to study Eta Carinae in visible and infrared light, and we thought we had a pretty full accounting of its ejected debris," Nathan Smith, a researcher at the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona and lead investigator of the Hubble program, said in the statement.
Smith further said, "But this new ultraviolet-light image looks astonishingly different, revealing gas we did not see in other visible-light or infrared images" "This extra material is fast, and it 'ups the ante' in terms of the total energy for an already powerful stellar blast," he added.