Feeds

Hubble snaps exploding star's near-fatal weight-loss bid

Eta Carinae on the fast track to supernova

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Pic NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured a stunning shot of the Eta Carinae system's largest star suffering a near-death experience before it goes supernova in the near future.

Hubble image of Eta Carinae star

The beginning of the end for the Eta Carinae star. Credit: ESA/NASA

Earlier this month boffins published a study into the Eta Carinae star's near-nova explosion during which it shed ten solar masses*. The violent detonation was seen in 1843 and, discounting our Sun, made the heavenly body the second brightest star in the sky. The only star brighter was Sirius, which is nearly a thousand times closer to Earth.

Now the star is once more visible to the naked eye at night, although it's nowhere near as bright as it was back in the 19th century.

This pic shows the cloud of material, now known as the Homunculus Nebula, thrown out during the star's brush with death - what space boffins call a "supernova impostor event".

The image, consisting of ultraviolet and visible light images from the High Resolution Channel of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, shows that the debris from the event wasn't thrown out uniformly, but in a dumbbell shape.

Boffins are fairly confident that the Eta Carinae star is on its way out and they expect its supernova in the near future. Of course, this being in astronomical timescales, "near future" could be as much as a million years from now.

Whenever it does eventually go off, the star will be one of the closest to Earth to explode when there was someone here to see it, giving an impressive view to folks on the surface - Eta Carinae is only 7,500 light years away.

The brightest supernova ever observed was SN 2005ap [PDF], a star of the same type, located 4.7bn light years away and detected by the McDonald observatory in West Texas. ®

* One solar mass is equivalent to 1.98892 x 1030 kilograms

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.