Astronomy Picture of the Day



Dusty Environs of Eta Carinae

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#81023 by @ 16.10.2005 00:00 - nach oben -
Dusty Environs of Eta Carinae


Explanation:

Eta Car
is a massive star, but it's not as bright as it used to be.

Now only easily visible in binoculars or a small telescope,
Eta
Carinae has a history

of spectacular flaring and fading behavior.

In fact, in April of 1843

Eta Car briefly
became second only to
Sirius as the brightest star in planet Earth's
night sky, even though at a distance of about 7,500 light-years,
it is about 800 times farther away.

Surrounded by a complex and evolving nebula,
Eta Carinae
is seen near the center of this false-color
infrared image,
constructed using data from the Midcourse
Space Experiment (MSX).

The
MSX satellite
mapped
the galactic plane in 1996.

In the picture, wispy, convoluted filaments are
clouds of dust
glowing at infrared wavelengths.

Astronomers hypothesize that Eta Car

itself will explode as a supernova in the
next million years or so.

Massive Eta Car has even been considered a
candidate for a hypernova
explosion and the potential source of a
future
gamma-ray burst
.




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