Eta Carinae

Eta Carinae

Eta Carinae

Many astronomers predict that the star Eta Carinae, which is about 7,500 or more light years from Earth and has an estimated total mass equal to about 100 Suns, will explode as a supernova one day.

In the 19th century, Eta Carinae's apparent brightness increased dramatically and then faded. At least some of the cloud of dust and gas that surrounds the star and obscures it from view is thought to have been released at this time. Astronomers recently discovered that Eta Carinae has one or more companion stars.

Image: A composite optical and X-ray image of the turbulent star Eta Carinae (X-ray: NASA/CXC/GSFC/M.Corcoran et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI)

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Eta Carinae

Introduction

Will this star explode and form a black hole one day?

About Eta Carinae

Eta Carinae (η Carinae or η Car) is a stellar system in the constellation Carina, about 7,500 to 8,000 light-years from the Sun. The system contains at least two stars, of which the primary is a luminous blue variable (LBV) that initially had around 150 solar masses, of which it has lost at least 30. A hot supergiant of approximately 30 solar masses is in orbit around the primary, although an enormous thick red nebula surrounding Eta Carinae makes it impossible to optically see this companion. The Eta Carinae system is enclosed in the Homunculus Nebula, in turn a part of the much larger Carina Nebula, and currently has a combined bolometric luminosity of over five million times the Sun's. It is not visible north of latitude 30°N and is circumpolar south of latitude 30°S. Because of its mass and the stage of its life, it is expected to explode as a supernova or hypernova in the astronomically near future.

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