The Hubble Telescope captured a distant star that was about to explode

04/23/2021 AG Carinae NASA, ESA, STSCI Research and Technology Policy

To celebrate b Thirty-first anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space TelescopeAstronomers pointed to one of the brightest stars in the galaxy, with a glowing halo of gas and dust.

According to experts, for several years, A star named AG Carinae wages a battle between gravity and radiation to prevent self-destruction. The expanding layer of gas and dust surrounding the star is about five light-years across, which is equivalent to the distance from Earth to the closest star after the Sun, Proxima Centauri.

The colossal structure was created from one or more gigantic eruptions about 10,000 years ago. There, the outer layers of the star flew into space. The mass of the ejected matter is about 10 times the mass of our sun. NASA Reports. These eruptions are the typical lifespan of a rare breed of star called the luminous blue variant, which is a short convulsive phase in the short life of a bright, bright star that lives quickly and dies young.

These stars are among the largest and brightest known to man, and only live for a few million years. Compared to nearly 10 billion years of the age of our sun. AG Carinae is a few million years old and is found 20,000 light-years away within our Milky Way galaxy. The bright blue variants show a double personality: She appears to spend years in inert bliss and then burst into infernal rage. These giants are stars in their extremes, completely different from regular stars like our Sun. In fact, AG Carinae is estimated to be about 70 times larger than our sun and has a brightness that blinds a million suns.

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“I like studying these types of stars because I’m intrigued by their instability.” Kirsten Weiss, an expert in luminous blue variants at Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, said, “They do something strange.” Large explosions like the ones that produced nebulae happen once or twice during the lifetime of a blue variable. Luminous, which spews out material only when it is in danger of self-destruct as a supernova.

03/08/2021 NASA Hubble Telescope Research and Technology Policy
03/08/2021 NASA Hubble Telescope Research and Technology Policy

Due to their formidable shapes and extreme temperatures, bright blue variable stars like AG Carinae are in a constant battle to preserve stability. It is a battle with open arms between the radiation pressure from inside the star being pushed out and gravity pushing inward. This cosmic coincidence results in the expansion and contraction of the star.

Outside pressure sometimes leads to victory in battle, and the star expands to such an enormous size that it falls from its outer layers, like an eruption of a volcano. But this explosion only occurs when a star is on the verge of collapsing. After the substance is excreted, it shrinks to its normal size, stabilizes again, and becomes inactive for some time. Like many of the other bright blue variants, AG Carinae remains unstable, having experienced slight explosions that were not as powerful as the ones that created the current nebula.

Although AG Carinae is now sleeping, like a very hot star, it continues to emit scorching radiation and strong stellar winds (streams of charged particles). This flow continues to form the ancient nebula, carving out complex structures as flowing gas hits the slow-moving outer nebula. Wind travels at up to 1 million kilometers per hour, about 10 times the speed of an expanding nebula.

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Over time, the hot wind reaches the cooler ejected matter, striking it and carrying it away from the star. This ‘snow sweep’ effect removed a cavity around the star. The red substance is incandescent hydrogen gas mixed with nitrogen gas. The blurred red material in the upper left indicates where the winds passed through a faint region of material and carried it into space. The most prominent distinguishing features of blue are the tadpole-shaped filamentous structures and twisted bubbles. These structures are clumps of dust illuminated by the reflected light from the star. The tadpole-shaped features, most notably on the left and in the background, are dense accumulations of dust carved out by the stellar wind.

Hubble’s powerful vision reveals these delicate structures in great detail. The image was captured in visible and ultraviolet light, providing a slightly clearer view of the filamentary dust structures that extend all the way to the star. Hubble is ideal for observing ultraviolet light because this wavelength range can only be seen from space.

Massive stars, such as AG Carinae, are important to astronomers due to their far-reaching effects on their surroundings. The largest program in Hubble’s history, the Young Stars Ultraviolet Legacy Library as standard, studies the ultraviolet light of young stars and how they shape their surroundings.

The bright blue variable stars are rare: fewer than 50 are known intergalactic in our home group of neighboring galaxies. These stars spend tens of thousands of years in this phase, the blink of an eye in cosmic time. Many are expected to end their lives in gigantic supernova explosions, which enrich the universe with elements heavier than iron.

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Lovell Loxley

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