Visitors Now:
Total Visits:
Total Stories:
Profile image
By Alton Parrish (Reporter)
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views

Now:
Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:
Total:

Violent Winds Collide in One of The Heaviest Stars in Our Galaxy

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 16:17
% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

(Before It's News)

A revolutionary study involving researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy (MPIfR) in Germany, Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, and NASA in the USA, has obtained the sharpest ever images of one of the heaviest stars in our Galaxy. The images show Eta Carinae and its violent collision of winds in stunning detail, providing new information on how stars evolve and die.

Eta Carinae is the heavyweight champion in our galaxy, shining with a power equivalent to 5,000,000 Suns. It is surrounded by the beautiful Homunculus nebula, which contains the remains of material ejected in 1843 when Eta Carinae was one of the brightest stars in the sky.

B4INREMOTE-aHR0cHM6Ly8yLmJwLmJsb2dzcG90LmNvbS8td2tuRnZHc0l2U2cvV0FmMEFaNGVET0kvQUFBQUFBQUJQeFkvRUFnYmgtZXhiWmdHWmNqUTFMLVJQUk1BRi1QcHZMaEJRQ0xjQi9zNjQwLzEyNDkxOV93ZWIuanBn

Credit; ESO (left) and Gerd Weigelt (right).

At the heart of the nebula, another monster companion star is evaporating while it orbits Eta Carinae. They are blowing powerful outflows that are colliding between the two at a speed of 10,000,000 km/h. The violent outflowing winds as seen in Eta Carinae herald the end of a star’s life as a supernova, and their study provides scientists with clues about how such stars evolve and die.

The team used a new imaging technique, called interferometry, which combines the light from three large telescopes to obtain extremely sharp images. The new Eta Carinae observations could only have been made with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescopes.

Explore Eta Carinae from the inside out with the help of supercomputer simulations and data from NASA satellites and ground-based observatories.

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

 

The team, led by Professor Gerd Weigelt (MPIfR), combined the infrared light of Eta Carinae employing three movable 1.8-metre telescopes of the ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer. Very sharp and detailed images can be obtained when the movable telescopes are located very far apart. Because of that, the final images are as sharp as if they had been observed from a giant 130-metre telescope.

Professor of Astrophysics at Trinity College Dublin, Jose Groh, said: “These are unprecedented images obtained with the ESO telescopes. We were able to zoom in and see the heavyweight champion in our Galaxy like never before. The images provide us with a front-row view of how monster stars interact with each other. The heavier star is winning for now, but the faster companion star may change the fate of the system in the future.”

Extreme physical processes occur when the powerful winds collide in Eta Carinae. In the collision region, the hot gas emits strong amounts of light. The astronomers used this light to produce the new images of Eta Carinae. By dispersing and analyzing the light from Eta Carinae, the team could determine how the gas moves in the zone where the winds collide.

In the past, it was not possible to resolve this violent collision zone, because its extension is too small even for the largest telescopes.

Professor Gerd Weigelt added: “Our dreams came true, because we can now get extremely sharp images in the infrared regime. The ESO interferometer provides us with a unique opportunity to improve our physical understanding of Eta Carinae and many other monster objects.”

Contacts and sources:
Thomas Deane
Trinity College Dublin

These findings are published in Astronomy and Astrophysics. The article is available at: http://www.aanda.org/component/article?access=doi&doi=10.1051/0004-6361/201628832

 

Report abuse

Comments

Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

Top Stories
Recent Stories

Register

Newsletter

Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.