Eta Carinae Images

To celebrate HST 17th anniversary, STScI released this astonishing image of the eta Carinae Nebula, the largest image ever taken with HST.You can click in the image to zoom in and see the details of star formation in the Carina nebula.

Images through the electromagnetic spectrum Visible light   X-Rays   Model   Infrared   Radio   Download

Visible light
This optical image (0.35-0.75 microns) displays the nebula and stellar clusters in the eta Car neighborhood, in an extension of tens of ligh-years.Those blue (hot) and luminous stars ionize the interstellar gas clouds, producing an HII Nebulae much larger than Orion. It can be spotted at naked eye (far from city lights) as a white nebulosity, to the right of the Southern Cross in the first semester of the year. Only observers located south of latitute +30 degrees are able to see et Car. Image from CTIO/NOAO

This is one of the highest resolution images taken in night time (0.05 arcsec). The bright spot at the center contains the star, that is hidden at optical wavelengths. The peanut shaped nebula composed of gas and dust is called Homunculus (little man), that was ejected in the 1843 grest eruption and is expanding at speed of ~600 Km/s. The red nebula around the Homunculus is made by gases ejected in a previous event - perhaps 1000 years ago. The dust contents in the Homunculus is enough to make a thousand planets like those of the solar system together. The size of the  Homunculus looks small (17 arcsec) due to the fact that it lies 8 thousands light-years away (72 million billion Km).  As a matter of fact, it is huge: 500 times the size of the solar system, that in this picture is only of the size of one of the smallest dark dots. A chemical analisis reveals that the gas was processed by nuclear reactions inside the star, indicating that it life is ending. The central source displays only a little fading in the optical wavelengths, during the 5.53 year cycle. Hubble Space Telescope, see a movie of the expansion => Jon Morse

This image in X-rays was collected by the orbital X-ray satesta imagem foi tomada pelo satélite Chandra satelite in the spectral range 1-10 Kev ( ~1/1000 of the optical wavelength). The central source (white dot) is 63 million K hot and is coincident with the position of the optical source. It appears to be formed by the wind-wind collision (see MODEL bellow). The bluish halo seems to be due to X-rays scattered by dust. The orange horseshoe shaped nebula is 3 million K hot and  is due to the collision of the gases ejected ~1 thousnad years ago, against the interstellar medium . The image to the right shows the size of the Homunculus (optical) compared to the X-ray image. The central X-ray source fades completely during the blackouts the occur every 5.53 years. Chandra images, see also a X-ray movie by Mike Corcoran

modelo binario Computer image of the binary system model. The binary stars are in the center of the Homunculus. The period is 5.53 years, the orbits are very eccentric with a size similar to Jupiter orbit. Both stars have strong winds. The more massive (to the left) is the coldest one (~15000K) and the smaller one is hottest (~30000K). The winds suffer a tremendous collision heating the gas up to 63 million K (white arc inbetween the two stars). When the smaller star (smaller) approaches the periastron, it plunges inside the dense wind of the primary star, producing a blanketting of the UV ionizing photons. This is the mechanism under the periodic "blackouts" that occur cyclicly every 5.53 years. In X-rays the emission is enhanced near periastron, but the huge absortpion produced by the column density of gas obscures the wind-wind colliding zone, producing an eclipse simultaneous with the ionization "blackout". (clik here to see a large update version)

2MASS This image was taken with the 2MASS telescope at CTIO (Chile), in the near-infrared (1.25-2.3 microns). It displays the region near eta Carinae, the bright star at the low left corner. Compare this image with the optical one at the top of this page and see that many more stars are seens in the infrared than optical wavelengths. This is due to the fact that the inerstellar dust absorbs much more the shorter wavelength light (optical, UV and X-rays) than the longer ones (infrared and radio). The eta Car light in this spectral range is due to very hot dust (1000K). Eta Car shows a moderate light modulation along the 5.53-year cycles in the near-infrared. 2MASS da Universidade de Massachusetts

mid-infrared Mid-infrared image (18 microns) made with the Blanco telescope (CTIO). In this wavelength, eta Carinae is the brigthest source all over the sky outside of the solar system. Eta Car isn't seen at this wavelength, only the dust is revealed. The dust in the central parts of the Homunculus (white zones) is heated to about 0 degrees Celsius. The size of the dust grains is very large (~2 microns) for the as compared to normal interstellar. No light modulation along the 5.53 years cycle was detected in the mid-infrared. University of Florida

5 GHz This image was made with the Australian radio Telescope at 6 cm wavelength. The resolution of this image (~1 arcsec) is very high for the radioastronomy standards. I reveals the stellar wind expelled by the star (white circle). The red cloud is due to thermal emission from warm dust. The radio source undergoes strong variability along the 5.53 years cycle. See a movie of radio variability => S. White - see also Bob Duncan

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Talk (mixed Potuguese/English powerpoint: 10.7 MB)
Zoom (powerpoint 1.4 MB)
Videoclip (by André Fonseca da Silva 860 KB zipped)