Earth is fighting a laser duel with the exploding Carina Nebula

Four orange laser beams blaze through the Milky Way while an angry purple nebula transfixes us with its death-stare. Happily (or sadly, depending on how much news you’ve consumed this week), Earth is not doomed; in fact, it’s an Earthly telescope that’s launching the lasers in this epic image from the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Dubbed ESO’s picture of the week, this shot looks like a cosmic battle to the death, but it actually captures a clever astronomical trick that scientists use to peer across time and space. The purple star system pictured here is the Carina Nebula, sometimes called the Eta Carinae nebula in honor of its most famous star system. Eta Carinae — actually a pair of two giant stars — has been steadily exploding in a spectacular eruption of gas and dust for nearly 200 years. Though the system is located about 7,500 light-years from Earth, this ever-brightening explosion has rendered it one of the most luminous star systems in the Milky Way.

Related: 9 Strange Excuses for Why We Haven’t Met Aliens Yet

The Carina Nebula sits roughly 7,500 light-years from Earth. (Image credit: ESO/G. Hüdepohl)

Source link

#Earth #fighting #laser #duel #exploding #Carina #Nebula