Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

July 12, 1995
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Eta Carinae Before Explosion
Picture Credit: NASA, HST, WFPC2, J. Hester (ASU)

Explanation: The star Eta Carinae, at the center of the photo, will likely destroy itself in a spectacular explosion in a few million years - or sooner! Currently it is one of the brightest, most massive, and least stable stars known. Much of the gas in this Hubble Space Telescope photograph was blown off the star itself. Some of these gas clouds are similar in size to our solar system. Astronomers cannot yet fully explain the motions of the surrounding nebula, and continue to study this system.

Reference: the Space Telescope Scientific Institute's press release.

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