Space Telescope image of the
star Eta Carinae
Eta Carinae is a famous star in the southern sky. For a time in the 1830s and 1840s, it was the second brightest star in the sky! This was the result of an outburst which it underwent; because of this outburst, it is regarded as the most extreme member of the class of stars known as "Luminous Blue Variables" (LBVs for short; see a previous text page).

Eta Carinae is the most luminous star in our Galaxy (i.e., it puts out more energy than any other star we know of) and is therefore thought to be the heaviest star in the Galaxy, at roughly 100 times the mass of our Sun. The hot gas which was ejected in the 19th century now produces a beautiful visible nebula which surrounds the star and is known as the Homunculus nebula. The first image is a full-color Hubble Space Telescope image of the nebula and the star produced by Jon Morse and Kris Davidson.