Imagine traveling to the Moon in just 20 seconds! That’s how fast material from a 170-year-old stellar eruption sped away from the unstable, eruptive, and extremely massive star Eta Carinae.
Astronomers conclude that this is the fastest jettisoned gas ever measured from a stellar outburst that didn’t result in the complete annihilation of the star.
The blast, from the most luminous star known in our galaxy, released almost as much energy as a typical supernova explosion that would have left behind a stellar corpse. However, in this case a double-star system remained and played a critical role in the circumstances that led to the colossal blast.