Eta Carinae: The Great Eruption of a Massive Star – Stunning New Astronomical Visualization

Eta Carinae Visualization

The Violent Star Eta Carinae Model Is Based On Multiwavelength Observations

It was once one of the brightest stars in the heavens, easily visible to mariners navigating by the southern sky in the mid-1840s. But the star Eta Carinae quickly faded into obscurity after its brief outburst. Now, over a century and a half later, NASA space observatories (probing from infrared light through X-rays) have enabled astronomers and artists to assemble a three-dimensional model of the Homunculus Nebula and accompanying clouds of dust and gas enshrouding the petulant star. More than just an eye-catching visualization, the story of the 1843 Great Eruption and the history of the expelled nebula is designed to enrich astronomical learning, a key goal of NASA’s Universe of Learning.

Visualization Explores a Massive Star’s Great Eruption

A new astronomical visualization from NASA’s Universe of Learning showcases the multiwavelength emissions (from infrared light through X-rays) and three-dimensional structures surrounding Eta Carinae, one of the most massive and eruptive stars in our galaxy. The video, “Eta Carinae: The Great Eruption of a Massive Star,” was released today. (See video embedded above.)

Eta Carinae, or Eta Car, is famous for a brilliant and unusual outburst, called the “Great Eruption,” observed in the 1840s. This briefly made it one of the brightest stars in the night sky, releasing almost as much visible light as a supernova explosion.

The star survived the outburst and gradually waned during the next fifty years. The Homunculus Nebula, a tiny nebula of gas and dust that was released during the explosion and that obstructed the star’s light, is the main culprit for this brightness drop.

Observations using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory reveal the details in visible, ultraviolet, and X-ray light. Astronomers and artists at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland have developed three-dimensional models to represent the hourglass shape of the Homunculus and the clouds of glowing gas that encompass it. The result is a stunning tour of the nested emissions that brings the 2D images to 3D life.

“The team did such an amazing job representing the volumetric layers that viewers can immediately and intuitively comprehend the complex structure around Eta Car,” said Frank Summers, principal visualization scientist at STScI and project lead. “We can not only tell the story of the Great Eruption, but also showcase the resulting nebula in 3D.”

In addition, Eta Car is extremely bright at infrared wavelengths, and its radiation impacts the much larger Carina Nebula where it resides. Working with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope observations, the team was able to place Eta Car in context of the dazzling infrared view of the star-forming region.

“Spitzer’s infrared image lets us peer through the dust that obscures our view in visible light to reveal the intricate details and extent of the Carina Nebula around this brilliant star,” commented Robert Hurt, lead visualization scientist at Caltech/IPAC and team member.

Extending the goals of NASA’s Universe of Learning, the visualization assets promote learning beyond the video sequence. “We can take these models like the one for Eta Car and use them in 3D printing and augmented reality programs,” noted Kim Arcand, visualization lead scientist at the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “This means more people can put their hands on the data – literally and virtually – and this makes for better learning and engagement.”

Eta Carinae is one of the most massive stars known. These exceptional stars are prone to outbursts during their lives. They will end their lives by collapsing into a black hole, probably accompanied by a supernova explosion. Eta Car is one of the nearest and best-studied examples for learning about the energetic life and death of very massive stars.

Want to learn more? The visualization video and extensive related resources, including an upcoming Universe of Learning online live chat with Summers about the visualization, can be found at

NASA’s Universe of Learning is part of the NASA Science Activation program. The Science Activation program connects NASA science experts, real content and experiences, and community leaders in a way that activates minds and promotes deeper understanding of our world and beyond. Using its direct connection to the science and the experts behind the science, NASA’s Universe of Learning provides resources and experiences that enable youth, families, and lifelong learners to explore fundamental questions in science, experience how science is done, and discover the universe for themselves.

NASA’s Universe of Learning materials are based upon work supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number NNX16AC65A to the Space Telescope Science Institute, working in partnership with Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

4 Comments on "Eta Carinae: The Great Eruption of a Massive Star – Stunning New Astronomical Visualization"

    GET Back home, Loretta. Your Momma’s waitin’ for you… Here on Earth. She’s wearin’ high-heeled SHOES and a low-neck sweater…
    The Dirty Low DOWN…
    CARINA can suck salt and BLOW. She don’t live here. But WE the PEEPS do.
    Blessings on you none-the-less for the education.

  2. Babu G. Ranganathan | January 26, 2022 at 7:58 am | Reply

    Babu G. Ranganathan*
    (B.A. Bible/Biology)


    Although I am a conservative Christian (Reformed Baptist), I no longer believe that the Bible teaches or supports the traditional view of hell with its doctrine of eternal torment or suffering.

    The Bible does teach eternal punishment, but that eternal punishment ultimately is not eternal suffering.

    God’s righteous wrath is not an end in itself but a means to an end, that end being the eternal destruction of the wicked. That’s why the Bible teaches in Romans 9:22 that the wicked are “vessels of wrath (the means) fitted for destruction (the end).

    The Old Testament says, in Jeremiah 17:27, that when God comes in judgment upon Israel the gates and palaces of Jerusalem will burn and the fire will “not be quenched.” Ezekiel 20:47 says every green tree and dry tree will burn and the fire will “not be quenched.” Are any of these things still burning? Of course not! Then, why does God say that the fire will “not be quenched?”

    When Scripture talks about unquenchable fire, what it means is that the process of destruction is unstoppable. The Bible records judgments of God where His wrath was quenched (or stopped) such as in the case when Moses interceded and pleaded before God for the rebellious Israelites in the desert. God in His wrath sent a plague to kill the rebellious Israelites. Moses came between the dead and the living (Numbers 16:48). When Moses did this, God quenched His wrath. “Unquenchable fire,” then, simply means that God won’t stop (or quench) His wrath until it’s finished its job of total destruction.

    Won’t the wicked suffer forever in hell? The word “forever,” in Scripture, doesn’t always mean eternity. For example, in Exodus 21:6 (KJV) we read that certain people volunteered to be servants “forever.” Obviously this cannot mean eternity. The word “forever” (or “everlasting”), in Scripture, simply means the entire duration of something. If that something is immortal then the word “forever” must mean eternity. But, if that something is mortal then the word “forever” cannot mean eternity. The Bible teaches that only the righteous in Christ will inherit immortality. Those in hell won’t be immortal so their suffering cannot be eternal.

    When the Bible talks about eternal punishment, eternal judgment, eternal damnation, eternal destruction, or even eternal redemption, it is in reference to the result, not the process! It is not the destroying that’s eternal, but the destruction! When the Bible talks about eternal judgment, it is not the “judging” that’s eternal but the judgment. When the Bible talks about eternal redemption, it is not the “redeeming” that is eternal but the redemption.

    What about “eternal fire” in the Bible? Scripture says in Jude 7 that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by eternal fire. These cities are no longer burning still. How can the fire be called “eternal” then? Because the result that the fire produced is eternal — these cities will never exist again.

    Most Christians believe (wrongly) that God was referring to spiritual death when He told Adam and Eve they would die upon eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. They think this because God told Adam and Eve they would die the very day they ate it, but because Adam and Eve didn’t physically die the very day they ate the forbidden fruit, most Christians assume that God was to referring to spiritual death and not physical death.

    However, in the original Hebrew of the Old Testament, the word for “die” in Genesis 2:17 is in the imperfect mood. The imperfect mood denotes a process. So, what God really told Adam and Eve is that they would start dying. God wasn’t referring to spiritual death but to physical death. After their disobedience, God later prevented Adam and Eve from having access to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22–24) so that they would not live eternally. This is proof that God was referring to physical death in Genesis 2:17.

    All this proves that God will not allow sinful humans to be immortal. God will not let sin exist eternally by keeping sinners alive eternally in hell. God will bring an eternal end to sin and sinner in hell. That is His eternal justice, not eternal torment! God is just, but not cruel.

    Immortality is not a birthright. Just because man is created in God’s image doesn’t mean man must possess everything God possesses. Immortality is a gift from God available only through Jesus Christ, God’s eternal and only begotten Son, Who paid for our sins through His death and His shed blood on the Cross and Who rose bodily from the grave. Scripture says, Jesus Christ “hath destroyed death and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).

    ETERNAL LIFE in Scripture has the same meaning as immortality (i.e. Romans 2:7) which Christians will possess only in the future on Resurrection Day. Romans 2:7 and various other Scripture passages teach immortality and eternal life to be a future possession for Christians. Why then did Jesus use the present tense when saying those who believe in Him have eternal life? The answer is that sometimes in the Bible the present tense is used to describe future events for the purpose of demonstrating their certainty. Scripture says God “calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17).

    The Bible says Jesus Christ “hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). The opposite of eternal life (or immortality) is eternal death (the eternal literal death of soul and body) – not eternally living in torment and suffering! “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting (eternal) life” (John 3:16). The issue is not what we think eternal punishment ought to be. The issues are God’s character, God’s definition of ultimate justice, and God’s eternal purposes.

    This view is known as “conditional immortality” because immortality is only given by God to those meet the condition of having faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

    How did the belief and teaching of eternal torment enter into Christianity? When the early Church adopted the belief, from Greek philosophy, that the human soul is immortal (indestructible), then it became only logical to believe that those who go to hell must suffer eternally.

    The wicked in hell will suffer, in varying degrees, for their individual sins, but the ultimate penalty for sin itself will be the eternal death of their soul and body and their eternal loss to immortality. That is their eternal punishment — their eternal loss to immortality. God’s wrath is not an end in itself but a means to an end, that end being eternal destruction.

    What I am sharing is not new. Good Christian men, across denominations, over the centuries held to the view I am espousing, including the great Christian hymn writer Isaac Watts, author of “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.”

    You will find Biblical answers to more questions by reading the author’s larger Internet article: TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS
    Read the author’s Internet article, EARLY CHRISTIANITY BEFORE THE PAPACY

    Visit the author’s newest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION

    *The author, Babu G. Ranganathan, has his bachelor’s degree with concentrations in Bible and Biology and has been recognized for his writings on religion and science in the 24th edition of Marquis “Who’s Who In The East.”

    • Torbjörn Larsson | January 26, 2022 at 1:00 pm | Reply

      Superstition nonsense. Pseudoscience links. And the Marquis “Who’s Who” series is a well known vanity press money scam.

      Post it on superstition sites where your theological studies and obfuscations will be read.

  3. Thomas Aaaaaaaarrrrggghquinas | January 27, 2022 at 6:05 pm | Reply

    And the lord doth say, “If there everth be an internet, that great series of tubes, and if on that internet there everth be a post or press release about science, thou shalt spam that post with incoherent nonsense and gobbldegook misrepresenting me until everyone grimaces in pain, even the atheists.” And the apostles said, “Amen!” then promptly created a to-do item in their palm pilots noting the lord’s will.

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