All the passionate professional and amateur lovers of the skies have a striking new image to marvel at. We are finally presented with some new, never-seen-before details, of the unstable giant stellar system called Eta Carinae, part of the constellation Carina, due to the work of a team of astrophysicists. The system is situated at a distance of 7,500 light years from us, and stands firmly on the position of the biggest star in a radius of 10,000.
Eta Carinae consists of two huge stars locked together, which send ionized gas far into space (which we call “stellar winds”), accounting for the system’s fluctuations the scientists could detect. Spikes of X-rays can be sensed on Earth’s surface once every five years, when the giant stars get closer, also creating fireworks that disperse into space. The 3D model we are now presented shows the birth of the Homunculus Nebula, whose light reached the Earth in the year of 1841, a glowing eruption bringing the star at the rank of second brightest at that time.
The 225th event of the American Astronomical Society’s hosted the news launch, which were presented by NASA researchers. The final model and the images are the result of data collected from space by official telescopes and amateur astronomers, all trying to gain a clearer understanding of what is going on out there.
The center of the system is hidden from us by huge clouds of debris, covering its immense light intensity, which is five million times the light coming from our Sun. Not only is Eta Carinae brighter than dear ole Sun, but it’s also approximately 90 times larger.
Dr Michael Corcoran has explained to the journalists that the collision would translate into an object travelling six-million mile per hour, hitting a wall of gas, and then decelerating almost instantly, generating a heap of energy. Based on the fluctuation of X-rays, scientists have created and “Eta clock”, signaling approximately five years in between collisions.
The 3D printing files showing the shape of the resulted nebula were the stars of the show, reaching 100,000 downloads online at the time of the presentation. The journalists were curious if there is any possibility that Eta Carinae would explode and form a new supernova. Dr Ted Gull, part of another team of astrophysics working on the project, said that they could not predict it, but they know for sure we will not live to see it. However, when it does happen, it would not wipe humanity out, but rather create a new source of light, much like the one radiating from the moon now.
Image Source: Gemini Observatory
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