Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

November 29, 1997

Lasers in Eta Carinae
Picture Credit: J. Gitlin (STScI), NASA

Explanation: Have you heard about the great LASER light show in the sky? A team led by K. Davidson (U. Michigan) and S. Johansson (U. Lund) discovered that the chaotically variable star Eta Carinae emits ultraviolet light in such a narrow band that it is most probably LASER light! This artist's vision depicts a model that could account for their Hubble Space Telescope observations. In this model, Eta Carinae emits many LASER beams from its surrounding cloud of energized gas. Infrared LASERS and microwave MASERS are extremely rare astrophysical phenomena, but this natural ultraviolet LASER is the first of its kind to be discovered.

Tomorrow's picture: Mercury

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.