Giant star visible from Coast could be about to explode
ONE of the biggest stars in the Milky Way with an estimated mass around 120 times the sun and clearly visible in the night sky from the Sunshine Coast could be about to explode.
Owen Bennedick, from the Wappa Falls Observatory predicted people only had around six months left to catch a glimpse of the binary star Eta Carinae before its blows up in the sky.
Astronomers have been predicting the end of the giant star for several years.
But Mr Bennedick believed it "is about to explode".
"It will only be visible for the next six months," Mr Bennedick said.
Thankfully, if Eta Carinae does go off with a big bang, its impact is unlikely to be felt on earth as it is 7500 light years away.
"It is too far away to cause any problems on earth," Mr Bennedick said.
And then its "main detonation" would take place over a "short period of time" and would come from the "centre of the explosion".
The explosion of stars, also known as a super nova, is unusual.
Mr Bennedick said it happened about once a century.
The unusual behaviour of Eta Carinae was noticed as early as in 1843 when it flared up to be "6000 times as bright as the sun".
Mr Bennedick said it was now "five million times as bright as the sun".
"It is radically changing," he said.
At the moment it was one of the brightest stars in the night sky and could be clearly seen from about 7pm rising in the south east.
But Mr Bennedick said it would be visible in broad daylight for about a week before its dramatic end.
NASA's astronomers have been using the Hubble telescope to observe Eta Carinae and its unusual behaviour for years.
However, they have given a slightly broader time frame for its death.
"Eta Carinea is one of the most massive and most visible stars in the sky," NASA's website reads.
"Because of the stars extremely high mass, it is unstable and uses its fuel very quickly, compared to other stars. Such massive stars also have a short lifetime, and we expect that Eta Carinae will explode within a million years.
In 2012, Time Magazine reported the "giant star could explode any day now".
It quoted a report from Nature, the international weekly journal of science, by astronomer Armin Rest of the Space Telescope Science Institute.
"It could explode in a thousand years, or it could happen tomorrow," Rest said.
"In astronomical terms, a thousand years might as well be tomorrow; as for a supernova blowing up literally tomorrow, well, that's almost unheard of."
The Daily has contacted astronomy experts at Monash University for their comments on whether Eta Carinae would explode soon.
Either way, now might not be a bad time to get a close up look of it at the Wappa Falls Observatory in Yandina.
Mr Bennedick said it could be seen with the "naked eyes", but binoculars or a telescope gave it a "whole new aspect".