The astrophysicists have revealed new details about the unstable ‘stellar monster’ Eta Carinae and also created the three-dimensional model of its destructive maelstrom present at the heart.
NASA researchers at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland carried the study, which was presented at the 225th meeting of American Astronomical Society in Seattle.
Eta Carinae is the biggest star within 10,000 that is 7,500 light years away from the Earth.
The scientists have created a 3D model of the giant Eta Carinae having two locked suns in an unstable and explosive tussle. It is located in the southern constellation Carina.
A great eruption took place in Eta Carinae in the 1840s that led to the creation of the billowing Homunculus Nebula, which is imaged here by NASA’s Hubble telescope.
According to the scientists, the expanding cloud constitutes of enough material that can make at least 10 copies of our sun. But the astronomers are still clueless about the reasons behind this eruption.
Scientists call Eta Carinae the most luminous and giant stellar system located within 10,000 light-years of Earth. Moreover, Eta Carinae is known for its surprising behavior erupting two times in the 19th century for unknown reasons.
The researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, conducted a long-term study and used ground-based telescopes, NASA satellites and several theoretical models to produce Eta Carinae’s most comprehensive picture to date.
The new discoveries include images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope showing ancient ionized gas shells racing away from the largest star at a million miles per hour and new three-dimensional models revealing never-before-seen features of the interactions of the stars.
Goddard astrophysicist Ted Gull said, “We are coming to understand the present state and complex environment of this remarkable object, but we have a long way to go to explain Eta Carinae’s past eruptions or to predict its future behavior.”
Gull has been coordinating a research group that has been keeping a close eye at the star for more than a decade.
The astronomers said that the cooler and brighter primary star has nearly 90 times the sun’s mass and outshines it by five million times.
The stars are 140 million miles apart at the closest approach or periastron. In simpler terms, the stars are apart at nearly the average distance between Mars and the sun.
The astronomers also observed dramatic changes in the system during the months before as well as after periastron. Some of the observations include X-ray flares, followed by a sudden fall as well as eventual X-ray emission recovery, the disappearance and then the re-emergence of structures nearby stars spotted at specific wavelengths of visible light.
NASA is working on the exploration of our solar system and beyond in order to understand the universe and our position in it.