Eta Carinae, a massive, unstable stellar system featuring two stars locked in a violent orbital tussle is situated about 8,000 light years from sun. It is the most luminous star system within the diameter of 10,000 light years of our solar system.
NASA has captured multiple images while the two stars struggled and allowed the users to explore it in 3D form, from the inside out.
The Eta Carinae exploded twice during the 1800s. Its eruption in the 1840s made it the second brightest star in the sky. Homunculus Nebula was birthed as a result of the explosion which actually encloses the two orbiting stars. Nebula is the scattering of cosmic material that appears spewed outward in all directions. The two stars and the immediate nebula are part of the much larger Carina Nebula.
The violent interaction between the two stars of Eta Carinae really enamored the Scientists.
“It’s an erratic stellar monster,” astronomer Michael Corcoran of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center told attendees at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle on Wednesday.
After every 5.5 years the two stars come to the closest point to each other that is almost the same distance between Sun and Mars. As they approach that point, or their periastron, they begin to increasingly emit X-rays until suddenly (just past periastron) they don’t.
The X-Ray Data from the from the stars has really helped the scientists to build the 3-D image of the stars interactions and how the changing solar winds affect the binary system’s electromagnetic output.
“We think these structures are real and that they form as a result of instabilities in the flow in the months around closest approach. I wanted to make 3-D prints of the simulations to better visualize them, which turned out to be far more successful than I ever imagined.” Researcher Thomas Madura said of the new simulated interactions created by a 3-D printer.
Despite of the struggle both of the stars don’t seem to lose mass, neither any one among the two stars are going to dissipate soon.
Goddard researcher Mairan Teodoro said “The 2014 emission is nearly identical to what we saw at the previous periastron in 2009, which suggests the primary wind has been constant and that the companion’s wind is responsible for the X-ray flares.”