The Cosmos with AG Carinae

This Picture of the Week showcases new views of the dual nature of the star AG Carinae, which was the target of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s 31st anniversary image in April 2020. This new perspective was developed thanks to Hubble’s observations of the star in 2020 and 2014, along with others captured by the telescope’s WFPC2 instrument in 1994. You can compare these two new versions of AG Carinae by using the slider tool on the image above.

The first image showcases the details of the ionised hydrogen and ionised nitrogen emissions from the nebula (seen here in red). In the second image, the blue demonstrates the contrasting appearance of the distribution of the dust that shines of reflected stellar light. Astronomers believe that the dust bubbles and filaments formed within and were shaped by powerful stellar wind .

This giant star is waging a tug-of-war between gravity and radiation to avoid self-destruction. The star is surrounded by an expanding shell of gas and dust — a nebula — that is shaped by the powerful winds emanating from the star. The nebula is about five light-years wide, equal to the distance from here to our nearest star, Alpha Centauri.

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