Scientists have recently released a timelapse video showcasing a stellar eruption that happened 180 years ago. The images, compiled from two decades of data captured by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, provide a fascinating glimpse into the past.
The video combines observations from Chandra, taken between 1999 and 2020, with data from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton spacecraft. These datasets were used to capture the explosive event known as the “Great Eruption” of Eta Carinae, a stellar system that consists of two massive stars.
It is believed that the “Great Eruption” of Eta Carinae was the result of a collision between two stars that initially formed part of a three-star system. The event, which took place in the mid-19th century, is still observable today.
The timelapse video reveals the expansion of the explosion in space, with speeds reaching a staggering 4.5 million miles per hour. It shows how Eta Carinae expelled a significant amount of mass, between 10 and 45 times the mass of the Sun, forming two spherical gas clouds known as the Homunculus Nebula.
The visible blue cloud in the video represents the Homunculus Nebula, while the bright, expanding orange ring demonstrates the expansion of X-ray emissions over time. Moreover, the video highlights the presence of a previously unknown faint layer of X-rays outside the expanding ring.
These new images, along with the accompanying deep image, provide valuable insights into the volatile history of Eta Carinae. The observations shed light on the rapid expansion of the ring and offer clues about the complex evolution of the stellar system.
The timelapse video not only showcases the incredible scientific achievements of astronomers but also offers a fascinating journey through time. It allows us to witness the consequences of a significant stellar event that occurred almost two centuries ago.
– Chandra X-ray Observatory: A NASA space telescope launched in 1999 to study the X-ray emissions from celestial bodies.
– Eta Carinae: A massive stellar system located in the Carina constellation, approximately 7,500 light-years away from Earth.
– Homunculus Nebula: The name given to the two spherical gas clouds formed from the material expelled during the “Great Eruption” of Eta Carinae.
– NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory
– European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton spacecraft