Artist's rendering of the explosion

Probing a New Type of Stellar Explosion |  A U.S. astronomer using the Gemini South and Blanco telescopes in Chile has added a startling new clue to the ongoing mystery over the "engine" of the historical 1843 outburst of Eta Carinae, a bright star in the southern skies. The new observations by Nathan Smith of the University of California, Berkeley, reveal faint but extremely fast material indicative of a powerful shock wave produced by the 1843 event, suggesting that its driving mechanism was an explosion rather than a steady wind. The result is featured in the September 11, 2008 issue of the journal Nature. For more, see the Gemini Press Release.