Eta Carinae may be about to explode. But no one knows when - it may be
next year, it may be one million years from now.
's mass - about
100 times greater than our Sun
make it an excellent candidate for a full blown supernova. Historical records do show that about 150 years
ago Eta Carinae
underwent an unusual outburst that made it one of the brightest stars
in the southern sky
, in the
the only star currently
thought to emit natural LASER light
, taken last September, resulted from sophisticated
image-processing procedures designed to bring out new details in the
unusual nebula that surrounds
. Now clearly visible are two
distinct lobes, a hot central
region, and strange radial streaks.
The lobes are filled with lanes of gas and dust which absorb the blue and
ultraviolet light emitted near the center. The streaks remain unexplained. Will these clues tell us how the nebula was formed?
Will they better indicate when
Credit: HST Text: APOD