Posted by: Kevin | April 24, 2007

The Hubble Telescope Turns 17

heic0707a.jpg
Click twice to expand, the bright object
in the black circle is Eta Carinae

NASA celebrated the telescope’s birthday today (it was launched on April 24th, 1990) by releasing the image above of the Carinae Nebula.  This nebula contains a dozen stars with more than 50 times the mass of the sun, including one of my personal favorites, Eta Carinae:

600px-etacarinae.jpg
Boom!

Eta Carinae is ~100 – 150 times the mass of the sun and more than 4 million times as bright.  It sits at the theoretical upper limit of star size, it’s only about 7,500 light-years away and it already appears to be in it’s death throes.  Meaning it will be destroyed in a tremendous supernova as soon as tonight, or as far in the future as 1,000 years.  Pretty cool if you ask me.

Hat Tip to the Bad Astronomy Blogger

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