The Hubble Space Telescope has taken so many unforgettable images, and yet it keeps capturing the most amazing pictures.
This is a new above image of a monstrous, ongoing galactic firework:
As massive as it is, it's not expected to be around very long, in galactic terms.
It's been building up to its explosive finale since at least 1838, when its so-called "Great Eruption" made it the brightest star in the sky for a few weeks in 1844.
Though the event turned out to be an "impostor supernova," and Eta Carinae somehow survived it, it was still intense, throwing out a 10-solar-mass cloud expanding at more than 20 million miles per hour.
What Hubble's just captured is a phenomenal view of what's left from the Great Eruption, and the image has something surprising in it.
Eta Carinae is a pair of stars whose orbits bring them just 140 million miles apart - roughly the distance from the Sun to Mars - every 5.5 years.
It's the larger, cooler one that's super-massive - 90 times more massive than the Sun and five million times brighter.
The smaller one, still huge, is thought to be 30 times bigger and a million times brighter. The more mass a star has, the shorter its lifespan, and the discovery of Eta Carinae caused scientists to redefine just how big a star could be. (There are only 10 more massive stars.)
Scientific American refers to Eta Carinae as a,
That blast end is unlikely to affect effect us, being 7,500 light years away, but if its warmup is any indication, oh boy.
In fact, given Eta Carinae's distance from earth, it may have already blown up, with the light from that apocalyptic event still en route to us.
Oh hai, magnesium
Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 took this image in ultraviolet light, and it's been artificially colored with nitrogen in red and magnesium in blue.
It's long been assumed that some of the Great Eruption's debris collided with materials ejected from the star at an earlier time, and became heated by the resulting shockwaves, producing a web of filaments in glowing nitrogen.
While the scientists expected to see some light from magnesium emanating from those filaments, they were surprised to see so much of it in-between Eta Carinae and the nitrogen.
The insight is just yet another gift from Hubble.
The image is likely to lead to a deeper understanding of stars' lives.