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Hubblecast 03: Celebrating Hubble's 17th birthday with violent stellar fireworks

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The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 17th birthday with one of the largest panoramic images ever taken. The violent stellar fireworks of the Carina Nebula. This is the Hubblecast! News and Images from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Travelling through time and space with our host Doctor J a.k.a. Dr Joe Liske. Welcome to the Hubblecast! On the 24th of April we celebrated Hubble’s 17th anniversary in space. In these 17 years of exploring the universe, Hubble has made nearly 800,000 observations of more than 25,000 different celestial objects. It takes pictures of the Universe as it is hurtles through space, orbiting Earth at the breakneck speed of 28,000 kilometres per hour. Now in 17 years that makes nearly 100,000 trips around our planet. Or, a total of 4 billion kilometres. That’s one round trip to Saturn! Today we are celebrating Hubble’s 17th birthday by releasing a stunning 50 light-year-wide image of the tumultuous central region of the Carina Nebula, where a maelstrom of star birth - and death - is taking place. In the southern sky, not far from the Southern Cross, we find the constellation Carina, the Keel. Here, 8,000 light-years away, the immense Carina Nebula is located. Hubble’s new view of the Carina Nebula shows the process of star birth at a new level of detail. The bizarre landscape of the nebula is sculpted by the action of outflowing winds and scorching ultraviolet radiation from the monster stars that inhabit this inferno. In the centre of the nebula we find Eta Carinae, which is estimated to be 100 times more massive than our Sun. It is in the final stages of its brief eruptive lifespan, as shown by two billowing lobes of gas and dust that presage its forthcoming explosion as a titanic supernova. Eta Carinae was the site of a giant outburst about 150 years ago, when it temporarily became one of the brightest stars in the southern sky. The star remains one of the great mysteries of stellar astronomy. Looking closer at the nebula we find a number of very interesting features. Pillars of gas and dust reveal unequivocal evidence that stars are being born inside the columns. Streamers of gas shoot out from the pillars and plough into surrounding gas like a fire hose hitting a wall of sand. The jets are being launched from newly forming stars hidden inside the columns. Everywhere we find small nuggets of cold molecular hydrogen and dust, called Bok globules that are silhouetted against the nebula. Now, the edges are glowing, which indicates that they’re being irradiated by the hottest stars around. It’s been hypothesized that stars may be forming inside these dusty cocoons. Since February 2007, Hubble has been operating with a reduced capability after one of its main cameras suffered a short circuit. A fifth Servicing Mission is, however, planned for September 2008 using NASA’s Space Shuttle. Two new instruments will be installed and several other upgrades will be made. The Carina Nebula is just one example of what Hubble can do. Everyday, Hubble generates 10 gigabytes of data; that makes 30 terabytes over the 17 years of its lifetime. The Hubble archive is a real goldmine to astronomers in Europe and in the US. Every day 66 gigabytes of data are being downloaded, and absolutely everyone can get access to these riches via the Internet. More than 7000 scientific papers have been published based on Hubble observations, and that makes Hubble one of the most productive scientific instruments ever. This is Dr J signing off for the Hubblecast. Once again nature has surprised us beyond our wildest imagination … Hubblecast is produced by ESA/Hubble at the European Southern Observatory in Germany. The Hubble mission is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency.

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes
Country: Germany
Language: English
Producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen
Director: Lars Lindberg Christensen
Views: 114
Posted by: esahubble on Feb 25, 2010

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 17th birthday with one of the largest panoramic images ever taken. Violent stellar fireworks of the Carina Nebula light up the birthday photo.

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