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The Hubble Space Telescope captured a stunning image of an outburst of a supermassive star. NASA researchers have discovered that star Eta Carinae’s exploding gases glowing in red, white, and blue for the past 200 years.
Eta Carinae is located at 7500 light-years away in the constellation Carina. It is roughly 5 million times brighter than Earth’s sun. The explosion started in 1844 when Eta Carinae went through titanic outburst. Astronomers still don’t know what sparked the fireworks. The star has faded since that eruption and is now barely visible to the unaided eye.
NASA said: “Astronomers have used almost every instrument on Hubble over the past 25 years to study the rambunctious star.”
With the aid of Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument, scientists have discovered streaks of magnesium glowing in ultraviolet light within the star’s gas.
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 in Tucson, Arizona, lead investigator of the Hubble program. “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.”