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News Release Archive:

News Release 779 of 966

January 10, 1995 12:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1996-06

Hubble Discovers Powerful Laser Beamed from Chaotic Star

January 10, 1995: Darth Vader take heart. Astronomers have discovered a powerful ultraviolet laser beam, several times brighter than our Sun, shooting toward Earth from a super-hot "death star."

The observations, made with the Hubble telescope, have identified a gas cloud that acts as a natural ultraviolet laser near the huge, unstable star called Eta Carinae ? one of the most massive and energetic stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. The interstellar laser may result from Eta Carinae's violently chaotic eruptions, in which it blasts parts of itself out into space, like an interstellar geyser. This illustration depicts a gas cloud [left], which acts as a natural ultraviolet laser near Eta Carinae [right].

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Credit: STScI and NASA