NASA astronomer Dr. Keith Noll takes a closer look at Hubble’s image of supermassive star Eta Carinae. Located over 8,000 light-years away from Earth, this volatile system contains two massive stars that closely orbit each other, resulting in the billowing pair of gas and dust clouds that you see in the image.
By combining multiple image processing techniques (dithering, subsampling and deconvolution), astronomers were able to crate one of the highest resolution images of an extended object ever produced by the Hubble Space Telescope. Eta Carinae was actually the site of a large outburst approximately 150 years ago, when it became one of the brightest stars in the southern sky. This explosion produced two polar lobes and a large thin equatorial disk, which move outwards at about 1.5 million miles per hour.
The new observation shows that excess violet light escapes along the equatorial plane between the bipolar lobes. Apparently there is relatively little dusty debris between the lobes down by the star; most of the blue light is able to escape. The lobes, on the other hand, contain large amounts of dust which preferentially absorb blue light, causing the lobes to appear reddish,’ said NASA.
NASA Takes a Closer Look at Hubble’s Image of Eta Carinae with Two Massive Stars Orbiting Each Other
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