Roughly 180 years after astronomers spotted it, this massive star has been mapped out in all its glory.
Eta Carine became one of the most brilliant stars visible on Earth in the 1840s as it blew up 7,500 light years away.
But it’s still one of the most massive stars in the Milky Way, and it left behind another formation in the wake of the 1840’s “Great Eruption.”
ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin.
Eta Carine’s explosion created the Homunculus nebula, a cloud of gas and dust that is still expanding more than two centuries after the eruption.
X-ray: NASA/CXC; Ultraviolet/Optical: NASA/STScI; Combined Image: NASA/ESA/N. Smith (University of Arizona), J. Morse (BoldlyGo Institute) and A. Pagan
On January 25, NASA released a new 3D visualization of the formation in great detail, imaged in different wavelengths.
Here are four views of Eta Carine:
It has yet to explode into a supernova — the next phase for a dying star of its size.
However, that won’t be for several million years, and we don’t know who, if anyone, will be around to see it next time.