Q&A: Normal Stars, White Dwarf Stars, and Star Clusters
Why do astronomers think Eta Carinae will explode any time? If
it explodes, how bright would it be? What will remain after it
Astronomers think Eta
Carinae COULD (not will) explode at any time because it is
one of the most massive stars known. Its mass is estimated to be
about 100 times the mass of the Sun -uncertain because Eta Car
is shrouded in dust, and may be a binary system. Such a massive
star will use up its nuclear fuel in only a few hundred thousand
years. We don't know how old Eta Car is, but if it is a few
hundred thousand years, it could explode at any time.
No one is sure what happens when such as massive star explodes,
but if it is like the brightest of supernovas, it should be
about a tenth as bright as the full moon!