February 7, 2017

Hubble captures incredibly rare image of exploding star

Billions of years from now, the sun will die a violent death, and while we won't be around to see it, other stars in the universe can offer us with an idea of what the sun's death just might look like.

NASA recently released a spectacular image of the explosive death of a Sun-like star more than 5,000 light-years away in the constellation of Puppis. The image was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The space agency released the new picture last Friday, observing that such pictures are incredibly uncommon as a result of how rapidly this stage of a star's life progresses.

Amazing Stellar Explosion

The picture reveals the Calabash Nebula, a red giant, changing into a planetary nebula by explosively shedding its outer layers into space at greater than 620,000 mph, NASA said. The yellow-colored gas can be seen shooting into contrary directions, making for a gorgeous spectacle.

NASA also said Calabash Nebula is often called the Rotten Egg Nebula, as it includes a large amount of sulfur, which can have the aroma of a rotten egg.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Last month, it was revealed that other images captured by Hubble were used to make the most accurate observations of the rate of Universe’s expansion to date. Bright highly-active quasars observed by Hubble flicker in illumination and these flickers were used as a gauge to get a very specific measurement of the rate of cosmic enlargement. The team was able to confirm past measurements of the Hubble constant, a number that identifies the rate of cosmic expansion.

The researchers were able to measure the Hubble constant to a precision of 3.8 percent — the most accurate measurement made thus far. Prior measurements of the Hubble constant utilized Cepheid variable stars as "standard candles" to assess cosmic ranges and get the rate of expansion. Basically, these stars vary in illumination in a known way, which makes them excellent beacons to analyze.

This new study matches these previous measurements of the Hubble constant, only more accurately, and verifies the universe is growing faster than cosmic models calculate, adding to the mysterious nature of the universe.


Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt