I just can’t stop starring at this awesome new image of the Carina Nebula. Honestly, between images like this and the two latest high-resolution shots of Earth, outer space have never looked more dazzling.
The image was taken by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) using infrared light to peer through thick clouds of dust and reveal previously unseen features. The final output is a mosaic of hundreds of snapshots taken by the VLT.
“The cloud of glowing gas and dust is the birthplace of many massive young stars, and the nebula is home to several of the brightest and most massive known stars,” reports Space.com. “One of these stellar giants is Eta Carinae, which is a mysterious and highly unstable star, according to ESO officials. Eta Carinae was the second brightest star in the night sky for several years in the 1840s, and astronomers think it will likely destruct in a violent supernova explosion within a relatively short time.”
By relatively short time, astronomers mean sometime in the next few years to a million years from now. And don’t worry – even if Eta Carinae does go all supernova in the sky, at 7,500 light years away it’s not expected to significantly impact terrestrial lifeforms here on Earth. But nighttime would be interesting for awhile.
According to Wikipedia, at least one scientist has claimed that when the star explodes, “it would be so bright that you would see it during the day, and you could even read a book by its light at night”.
Check out a larger image of the new Carina Nebula shot by clicking here.