The Hubble image on the front of this lithograph shows Eta Carinae’s hot, expanding, twin bubbles of glowing gas. The image is a blend of visible and ultraviolet light. The outer nitrogen-rich filaments are red. The blue color is the ultraviolet glow of magnesium within warm gas.
Astronomers now know that Eta Carinae is not a single star, but a system of two stars with a combined mass of more than 100 times that of our Sun.
The Eta Carinae system offers astronomers a unique chance to study the death throes of hefty stars because it is relatively nearby, roughly 7,500 light-years from earth.
Eta Carinae is on the brink of total destruction. While the petulant system’s outbursts are powerful, its future holds something even bigger. It is destined to end its life in an even more powerful supernova explosion.
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Hubblesite press release: Hubble Captures the Galaxy's Biggest Ongoing Stellar Fireworks Show