In a galaxy not so far away, stars, just like humans, are getting old. Considered to be the second brightest star in the sky for over a decade, Eta Carinae’s glow faded more and more as time passed, thus becoming harder to observe.
NASA kept careful track of Eta Carinae’s activity for over 25 years. The star is famous thanks to its spectacular eruptions and the fact that it is bound with three other stars within the same system . The first explosion of the star can be dated to about 170 years ago. The fact that it appears to be nearing the end of its existence only makes it more intriguing for astronomers and fascinating for astrology and space enthusiasts.
Wild eruptions of the star
A recent tweet from NASA revealed a picture of the unstable star Eta Carinae during a stunning stellar explosion, shot by the Hubble telescope, a true marvel of NASA’s tech. However, if you’re somehow attached to Eta Cariane, do not worry as this is not the first time it appears to be dying: the picture shows a similar event to the one that happened in the 19th century, which astronomers of the time called a “stellar near-death experience“. Also, these eruptions are officially named “supernova impostor events” because the appear similar to supernovae but stop just on the brink of destruction of their star, NASA says.
A possible explanation
The explosion was caused by an accumulation of ultraviolet gas and dust. Astronomers identified the glow as magnesium embedded in hot gas in unusual places. NASA believes that the aforementioned gas may have leaked from the star moments before its expulsion from the star’s bipolar lobes.
We see fireworks all the time across the universe, but the ones we see in space tend to happen a little slower than your local 4th of July show. Supernova 1987A, located in a nearby galaxy, has been expanding for the last 32 years! https://t.co/RAVffwxQBG #FourthOfJuly pic.twitter.com/Xdv5UD69FW
— NASA Blueshift (@NASAblueshift) July 4, 2019
NASA compared those amazing phenomena to the fireworks shows that are visible on America’s sky on the 4th of July, highlighting the celestial phenomena’ beauty and the fact that those take a lot more to develop and shine.
Along with the pictures of Eta Carinae, NASA also shared a couple of photos and time-lapse clips of the 1987A Supernova, which is celebrating over 30 years since its observation in a nearby galaxy and is constantly expanding ever since.