One solar mass is equivalent to 1.98892 x 10³⁰ kilograms
Cmon reg, that's useless. How many Olympic swimming pools filled with mercury is that equivalent to, we need real-world units.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured a stunning shot of the Eta Carinae system's largest star suffering a near-death experience before it goes supernova in the near future. Hubble image of Eta Carinae star The beginning of the end for the Eta Carinae star. Credit: ESA/NASA Earlier this month boffins published a study …
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"Whenever it does eventually go off, the star will be one of the closest to Earth to explode when there was someone here to see it, giving an impressive view to folks on the surface."
Given that the start could go supernova anytime in the next million or so years then how can you be sure there will be somebody here to see it?
We may have become extinct by then or moved elsewhere due to noisy neighbours.
to explode when there was someone here to see it" - err, not really. Of the 5 supernovae for which we have historic evidence, most were (10-20%) nearer and only one (Kepler's in 1654) was several times farther away than η Car. Its real significance is that it may be the first galactic SN to be observable through a telescope.
Similar supernovae have occurred every few centuries with minimal adverse effects. Supernovae have been proposed as causes of mass extinction events, but they would have to be very close* (<< 100 ly). Alternatively, a Gamma Ray Burst occurring inside the Milky Way would be seriously bad news.
* Back of envelope - supernova ~10^12 luminosity of Sun. So (due inverse square law) a supernova at 1 million AU would be of similar apparent brightness to the Sun. 1 million AU = 15 ly. No doubt a SN chucks out more nasties than a normal star, but for order of magnitude puposes this should be some reassurance.
That said, Eta Carinae is thought to have a Wolf-Rayet star co-orbiting the larger star. Being so close to such a massive star going supernova could perhaps cause it to undergo a GRB. Though I do agree that we should relax. It's pointless to worry about something beyond our control that may or may not ever happen.
I've just registered the Eta Carinae Final Performance Company which has exclusive rights to tickets to watch the event close-up from the comfort of The Golgofrincham II. The early bird tariff also includes a cryogenic storage at no extra cost! The spectacular is being described as the closest thing to rapture. Tickets are limited so do hurry...
If you look over the history of Hubble it started out with a bad mirror that crippled performance. Since it was repaired it has been a roaring success with all those magnificent pictures that have enthralled and educated so many generations of children around the world.
No more a select group of scientists cerebrating their success alone, they now share things with world with pictures that are so bright they almost burn yor eyes.
How many government projects returned so such value for money spent?
Sadly, the next time there is a technical failure there will be no shuttle to effect repairs and the whole world will be that much poorer for it.
There are 4 other KH-11 Kennan / Keyhole/Hubble telescopes in orbit at the present, with 10 previous ones deorbited and 1 failed to orbit.
This makes a bit of a mockery of the mission to save Hubble - the US could have just used a brand new one like the one they launched on 20/01/2011 - they didn't need a Shuttle to launch, a Delta IV Heavy works just fine.
The KH11s are considered 'legacy tech' by the US military now, by the way, after all they were developed in the early 70's and first launched in 1976. Again, making a mockery of the 'problems' with Hubble - now widely suspected to be a deliberate flaw in the primary mirror that was thought would not affect astronomical observations while hiding the true capability of the KH11 design - which was compromised in 1978. After all, they made about 7 of these mirrors perfectly before screwing up Hubble and then 'not noticing'.
Pretty sad, really; imagine the astronomy that could be done with TWO Hubbles, let alone 15 over 25 years!
It also makes you wonder about the James Webb Telescope - the KH11s are seen as outdated, so why can't we just use what the military have now (presumably something called 'Misty' if reports are true)
As for the Eta Carinae pic - is that new? There's been one like that around for years. I would expect EC to go supernova about 6 months after Western civilization collapses and all telescopes have been burned as heresies and astronomers (and annoying people like me who ask too many questions) burned as heretics. Or in about 1,000,000 years time; which ever is most disappointing, inconvenient and above all, of least use to advancing human knowledge.
Sorry, I have just drawn an ensuite bathroom larger than my whole flat for a 1% client, and I currently hate all of humanity.
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