back to article Hubble snaps exploding star's near-fatal weight-loss bid

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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  1. Tom 38 Silver badge

    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.

    1. Luther Blissett

      Which solar mass?

      Today's? Yesterday's?

  2. micheal

    Stop using this new fangled ISO units

    One solar mass is equivalent to 1.98892 x 1030 kilograms?

    how many double decker busses, blue whales and A380's is that?

    1. Armando 123

      Re: Stop using this new fangled ISO units

      Well, it is about 1.98892 x 10^29 supermodels.

  3. TeeCee Gold badge


    So that's where my Illudium Q36 Explosive Space Modulator got to.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Aha!

      > Illudium Q36 Explosive Space Modulator

      It's weird, I can only read that in Marvin's voice.....

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Simon Round

    "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.

  6. Chris Miller

    "one of the closest to Earth

    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.

  7. Scott 19


    Money where your mouth is Reg your going for a million, I'll take that bet put me down for 999,999 years from now.

  8. Rich 11 Silver badge

    "The violent detonation happened in 1843"

    I think you mean it was observed on Earth in 1843.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      Re: "The violent detonation happened in 1843"

      Icon.... you forgot the icon

  9. Stanislaw
    Thumb Up


    That pic on its own is worth the last servicing mission. Nice one.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think I can speak with authority when I say that

    the Sun actually is the weight of 2.9E+26 African Elephants.

    1. mr.K

      Re: I think I can speak with authority when I say that

      I on the other hand am pretty sure the Sun is weightless.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "I on the other hand am pretty sure the Sun is weightless."

        No, because the galactic gravitational field pulls on the sun, else it wouldn't stay in the galaxy - so the sun has a weight relative to that field.

        1. mr.K

          Re: No

          I'll give you a chance to look up the word in a dictionary.

          1. IglooDude
            Thumb Up

            Re: Re: No

            On the gripping hand, your words carry immeasurable weight with me.

            1. tybalt

              The Mote in God's Eye (Niven/Pournelle)

              Like the sci-fi reference. Might be a little obscure without explanation, and it's a great book, so I thought I'd elaborate (as per title)

              1. mr.K
                Thumb Up

                Re: The Mote in God's Eye (Niven/Pournelle)

                Yes, I am shamed to admit that I had to look it up myself, and not having read it I am a bit of a loss whether I was insulted or not. Since it apparently is too clever for me I'll give it a thumbs up just in case.

      2. Lord Midas

        Re: Re: I think I can speak with authority when I say that

        Not only is it weightless, it’s full of hacks and baseless accusations

  11. Fred 4

    Closeness... too close for comfort??

    a supernova releases a LOT of high energy photons... 7400 light years is not that far, galatically speaking.

    What is the chance that the radiation is of sufficient quantity to damage our living quarters (Earth)?

    1. mr.K

      Re: Closeness... too close for comfort??


    2. Chris Miller

      Relax, Fred

      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.

      1. Jordan Davenport

        Re: Relax, Fred

        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.

    3. itzman

      Re: Closeness... too close for comfort??

      Not just photons..lossa good particles down to muons and neutrinos.

      And a shower of radioactive debris presumably..

      Like, wow man, one of natures biggest hydrogen bombs going off next door.

  12. nigel 15

    One Solar Mass Unit

    Also known as the mass of the Sun.

  13. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Business opportunity?

    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...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Business opportunity?

      Have you done an environmental impact assesment and costed the cleanup operation and safe disposal of the nuclear waste?

      1. itzman

        Re: Re: Business opportunity?

        Those are not necessary on Golgonchinfram, surely?

        isn't that a theocracy of the divine order of pan dimensional white mice?

        You can do anything as long as it doesn't involve white mice.

  14. JaitcH

    Hubble has to have been the biggest NASA space coup other than the moon

    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.

    1. Wombling_Free

      Re: Hubble has to have been the biggest NASA space coup other than the moon

      Not really.

      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.

      1. Scott Wheeler

        Re: Re: Hubble has to have been the biggest NASA space coup other than the moon

        The KH11 mirror might do the same job as that on Hubble, but it doesn't mean that the sensor will.

  15. K. Adams

    What I want to know is...

    ...who are the two bright blue gate-crashers jumping into the photo on the left?

  16. Lord Midas

    Epic pic

    Love it. Hubble pics like these are simply lovely. More please, reg (plus a like to hi res versions).

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