Home
 Space Photos - SEARCH
 Frequently Asked Questions
 New
 Hubble - APOD Selections
 Earth from Space Photos
 Robert Gendler Photos
 Apollo Gemini Mercury Photos
 Top 50
 Space Shuttle - Space Station Photos
 Recent Requests
 Spitzer Photos
 More Hubble Photos
 Astronaut Crew Portraits
 Chandra Catalog
 Planet Photos
 Comets - Asteroids
 Other Astronomy Photos
 Sun Photos
 Links I Use
 Gift Certificates
 Videos
 
 Show Order
 Help
 Index
 



Click to enlargeHubble Eta Carinae Photo

Buy this Eta Carinae space photo. High quality Hubble picture, slide, or Duratrans backlit transparency. NASA photograph H96-23a. Wide variety of sizes. Click to see selection as Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) - March 26, 2006

A huge, billowing pair of gas and dust clouds are captured in this stunning NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the supermassive star Eta Carinae.

Using a combination of image processing techniques (dithering, subsampling and deconvolution), astronomers created one of the highest resolution images of an extended object ever produced by Hubble Space Telescope. The resulting picture reveals astonishing detail.

Even though Eta Carinae is more than 8,000 light-years away, structures only 10 billion miles across (about the diameter of our solar system) can be distinguished. Dust lanes, tiny condensations, and strange radial streaks all appear with unprecedented clarity.

Eta Carinae was observed by Hubble in September 1995 with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). Images taken through red and near-ultraviolet filters were subsequently combined to produce the color image shown. A sequence of eight exposures was necessary to cover the object's huge dynamic range: the outer ejecta blobs are 100,000 times fainter than the brilliant central star.

Eta Carinae was the site of a giant outburst about 150 years ago, when it became one of the brightest stars in the southern sky. Though the star released as much visible light as a supernova explosion, it survived the outburst. Somehow, the explosion produced two polar lobes and a large thin equatorial disk, all moving outward 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.

Estimated to be 100 times more massive than our Sun, Eta Carinae may be one of the most massive stars in our Galaxy. It radiates about five million times more power than our Sun. The star remains one of the great mysteries of stellar astronomy, and the new Hubble images raise further puzzles. Eventually, this star's outburst may provide unique clues to other, more modest stellar bipolar explosions and to hydrodynamic flows from stars in general.

June 10, 1996
Photo Credit: Jon Morse (University of Colorado), and NASA


H96-23a
Select Size: 
Surface: 
Follow SpaceImages on Twitter
Want to receive email updates? Click here.
Questions or Comments? Click here to send e-mail.