Join 3,417 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Cake to person ratio = infinite
April 30, 2007 4:18 PM   Subscribe

To celebrate the 17th birthday of the Hubble Space Telescope, please feast your eyes on a very detailed (Flash) picture of the Carina Nebula.
posted by WolfDaddy (27 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Lovely.
posted by Jimbob at 4:22 PM on April 30, 2007


Trippy.
posted by jourman2 at 4:33 PM on April 30, 2007


Jesus, it's been up there that long? Damn satellites. Get off my orbital vector!
posted by sciurus at 4:35 PM on April 30, 2007


Gassy.
posted by parallax7d at 4:38 PM on April 30, 2007


Documentary Hubble via shockingtelly
posted by acro at 4:41 PM on April 30, 2007


"Your worlds are lovely, Hubble."
posted by rob511 at 4:55 PM on April 30, 2007


Somebody please shoot me now.
posted by rob511 at 4:56 PM on April 30, 2007


coolio

the lights in this pic are all stars/suns?
posted by amberglow at 4:57 PM on April 30, 2007


the lights in this pic are all stars/suns?

Yes, it's full of stars.
posted by Jimbob at 5:04 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't want to cause a derail or anything, but pictures like this are why I don't understand fervently religious people. Out of the google-fucking-illion things that have ever lived, you're lucky enough to be in a group of what is probably a mathematically insignificant number of those things, and yet are able to look at something like this and have the ability to process just how fucking huge and beautiful and awesome it is. And that's not enough?
posted by Cyrano at 5:11 PM on April 30, 2007


And that's not enough?

Nothing's ever enough--we're human. : >
posted by amberglow at 5:15 PM on April 30, 2007


The APOD featured a nice big picture of this nebula a few days ago, which has been my desktop wallpaper since then. There's a closeup today, too. All wonderful stuff.
posted by Zonker at 5:20 PM on April 30, 2007


In college I had this famous picture of Eta Carinae. A friend looked at it and said, "Too many burritos."

That story was more interesting in my head.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:25 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Out of the google-fucking-illion things that have ever lived, you're lucky enough to be in a group of what is probably a mathematically insignificant number of those things, and yet are able to look at something like this and have the ability to process just how fucking huge and beautiful and awesome it is.

It's not exactly about luck. It's more that somewhere, sometime, something in the cosmos might eventually gain sentience, whereupon it is able to observe the universe & eventually wonder "Wow! What an amazingly fucking tiny chance that the laws of physics allowed me to exist & view this!", when in fact, it's quite circular & self selecting.

Known as the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, you can read beyond my hamfisted paraphrasing here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:59 PM on April 30, 2007


I don't want to cause a derail or anything, but pictures like this are why I don't understand fervently religious people. Out of the google-fucking-illion things that have ever lived, you're lucky enough to be in a group of what is probably a mathematically insignificant number of those things, and yet are able to look at something like this and have the ability to process just how fucking huge and beautiful and awesome it is.

Actually, that's one of the reasons I am a bit religious (though I'm far from fervent). To me, both nature and the human consciousness that regards it with a sense of reverence & awe are sublime mysteries.
posted by treepour at 6:18 PM on April 30, 2007


Just to clarify: I mean "mystery" in not the sense of something that we'll figure out eventually, but rather that these things are mysteries in essence, of themselves. Mystery with a capital M, I suppose.
posted by treepour at 6:22 PM on April 30, 2007


Beautiful image. wow. Nice post WolfDaddy, thanks so much.
posted by nickyskye at 6:57 PM on April 30, 2007


My God... it's full of stars!
posted by deCadmus at 7:01 PM on April 30, 2007


And that's not enough?

It's nothing in comparison to controlling other people's sex lives.
posted by dhartung at 7:17 PM on April 30, 2007


I <3 Hubble.
The nebula photo reminded me of this stuff. Trippy swirly colors yay.
posted by casarkos at 8:18 PM on April 30, 2007


I hope I'm not derailing the derail, but getting back to the astronomy picture, one of the coolest things in that nebula is the aforementioned Eta Carinae.

There are ordinary stars, like ours. It's going to last about another 5 billion years, convert into a red giant for a few hundred million years, and then collapse and become a white dwarf.

There are bigger stars, say 10 times ours in mass. Those explode. When it happens we call 'em "supernovas".

Then there are occasional stars which are monumentally huge. Eta Carinae is thought to be such a star. Estimates range from 100-150 solar masses, and stars that big burn through their fuel at an incredible rate. It's existed for maybe a million years, and it appears to be near the end of its life. Which probably is why it's tossed out all that gas around it, several solar masses worth, and why its luminosity has been changing radically over the last couple hundred years.

When it blows, it'll probably be part of an elite group of explosions known as "hypernovas", which make ordinary supernovas look like wet firecrackers. And it isn't all that far away from us: maybe 8000 light years, which isn't a comfortable distance when you're talking about an explosion this big.

It'll produce a gamma-ray beam along its axis of rotation which, if it struck us, would sterilize all life on this planet in a few hours. Fortunately, we're not in the line of fire for that. The beam will miss. But it's also going to produce an expanding spherical wave of radiation, and no one is sure just how strong it will be. It's entirely possible that it could cause massive ecological disruption here when it hits, comparable to the effect of a medium-to-big asteroid strike.

[Recently it was determined that Eta Carinae is actually two stars in a relatively close orbit. Probably one is small and the other is huge.]
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:22 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cool beans & groovie, too!
posted by taosbat at 9:04 PM on April 30, 2007


gorgeous. thank you.
posted by kisch mokusch at 9:22 PM on April 30, 2007


Amazingly detailed. If you move around and zoom in, you'll find some really nastly looking aliens floating around.
posted by eye of newt at 9:22 PM on April 30, 2007


I've always wondered, if you or I (or we) were within one of these nebulous nebulae, what would we see? By which I mean, quite simply, would we behold an awesome spectacle such as those captured by our orbital telescopes (the Hubble, of course, chief among) a scintillating, coruscating three-dimensional whorl of color and swirl of light; or would we see things more plainly? A breathtaking yet familiar star-scape? A scene free of atmospheric taint but otherwise something less than majestic, perhaps? Or maybe we'd be wired into super advanced computational devices controlled by a decedent race of multi-limbed mutants who have forgotten their science and are reduced to mere technicians. The inferiority complex this produces within them, of course, leads them to such absurd and ultimately pointless experiments as those designed to determine the effect of fully immersive galactic illusions on semi-sentient, carbon-based biological beings that refer to their species as 'humanity?'

Or what?

I mean, do we have any way of predicting what we'd see from a point within one of these images?
posted by Grod at 9:53 PM on April 30, 2007


The June issue of Astronomy magazine has some articles about Eta Carinae.

I like how Eta Carinae is actually peanut-shaped because of its mass and rotation.
posted by jiawen at 10:00 PM on April 30, 2007


Grod, I've wondered the same thing. Would it be like seeing the Milky Way stretching across the heavens, only taking up more of the sky and with more colors ... or what? Then again, I'm not sure I'd want to live inside a nebula, at least not one that's actively birthing a lot of stars (such as Carina). The radiation must be intense.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:58 AM on May 1, 2007


« Older A 360 degree view in 71 photos of Will Self's writ...  |  The website of London's Design... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments