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Come on Eta Carinae… Explode Already!

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/GSFC/MThe death watch is on for Eta Carinae, a relatively nearby massive star that’s set to explode as a supernova. The Chandra X-Ray Observatory delivered this beautiful photograph of the star and its surrounding nebula; layers of material that it’s already shed in its death throes.

When it does explode, Eta Carinae is going to be spectacular. It’s thought to have between 100 and 150 times the mass of our own Sun. Not only that, it’s a mere 7,500 light years away. Its brilliant display of fireworks will rival the light of the full Moon, and should be easy to see in the middle of the day; you could read a book by it at night.

So when’s it going to blow? Well, astronomers disagree on this point. The majority think that Eta Carinae has one final stage to go through, called a Wolf-Rayet star. Others think it’s already passed this stage, and it’s ready to go. It could explode tomorrow, or it could be 100,000 years away. Still, that’s a blink of the eye cosmically speaking.

Original Source: Chandra News Release

About 

Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Omar Sheira May 18, 2008, 4:55 PM

    WOW…this is some great information. I hope I get to see the great fireworks of the explosion in my lifetime. But since the light would reach us 7,500 light years away, could there be any harmful rays too?

  • steven July 13, 2008, 10:40 PM

    its axis is 45 degrees away from earth so it would not affect life

  • pikey December 5, 2008, 12:11 PM

    i hope this explodes in my lifetime two, but who know this might just destroy other planets around it and if their is any life there they will all be screaming right now!!

  • BlackBolt February 11, 2009, 8:14 AM

    I don’t think the nebula is very friendly… so no screaming there.

  • Thor February 14, 2009, 6:42 PM

    I cant wait for it to explode. Being able to read a book by it at night is amazing. But it could havve exploded right now but the light will take years to reach us.

  • mark lancaster February 19, 2009, 1:36 PM

    Eta Carinae went supernova 7499 years ago. Get ready!

  • MikeLacey March 19, 2009, 2:52 PM

    If it would explode today, prepare for a waittime aprox…. 7500 light years..

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