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Highest Resolution Image of Eta Carinae Star System Captured by Very Large Telescope

Oct 20, 2016 05:52 AM EDT
Eta Carinae
The most detailed image of the binary star system Eta Carinae provided astronomers with a ton of new information about the region and its two massive stars.
(Photo : Nathan Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and NASA/Wikimedia Commons)

Astronomers made use of the Very Large Telescope to capture a high-resolution image of Eta Carinae star system; the result is the most detailed image ever of the star system.

Due to the high-resolution rendering of the image, the team of astronomers found details and structures unknown to men before. There were structures from the binary system discovered specifically the area between the stars where high-velocity winds are colliding as observed from the image. Experts say that the latest discovery will help scientist better understand the formation of massive stars.

Astronomers used the Very Large Telescope (VLTI) in the European Space Observatory (ESO) to take the image of Eta Carinae star system that can be found inside the Carina Nebula. Gerd Weigelt of Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy leads the team who are currently analyzing the image of Eta Carinae.

Digitized Sky Survey Image of Eta Carinae Nebula
(Photo : ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin for Press Release Use.)
Astronomers are still discovering new information about the Eta Carinae binary star system after the most detailed image of the region was taken using ESO's Very Large Telescope.

Eta Carinae is composed of two massive stars, making it a binary system. The two orbiting stars are active that can produce winds with a velocity of up to ten millions kilometers per hour. The space between the massive stars is the spot were turbulent collisions happen. This area cannot be observed before, but thanks to modern advancement in technology, the formerly invisible and unreachable area can now be explored.

Historically, the two stars of Eta Carinae created the "great eruption" during the 1930s. This was said to be the aftermath of turbulent gasses and dust coming from the massive stars in an abrupt manner. It can also create lobes called Homunculus Nebula. These are of massive gas collision is also very dangerous.

In order to delve deeper into the Eta Carinae, the team of astronomers maximized the capabilities of the Very Large Telescope and its instrument called AMBER to peek deeper into the violent region of the binary star system for the first time. In order to do this, other equipment such as the interferometer was also used.

So far, the most detailed image of Eta Carinae has already given astronomers a ton of new information. "Our dreams came true because we can now get extremely sharp images in the infrared. The VLTI provides us with a unique opportunity to improve our physical understanding of Eta Carinae and many other key objects", Gerd Weigelt, team lead of the astronomers conducting the study said in a press release.


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