Department of Astronomy & Physics

Eta Carinae: a Rosetta Stone or an anomaly?

Speaker: Dr.  Ted Gull   (NASA/GSFC)
Time: September 22, 2017 - 3:00 PM
Location: Atrium 101


The first metals that enriched the interstellar medium came from very massive stars that evolved quickly. We can gain understanding of the physical processes by studying nearby massive stars in the present epoch, especially those that have undergone rapid evolutionary changes leading to huge ejections. However their estimated frequency is about one per galaxy per century.

Fortunately the massive star with historical ejection in our Milky Way, Eta Carina, is sufficiently nearby that we are able to study the ejected material and even monitor its current behavior with modern observatories. 

I will describe observations and models of the Eta Carina binary system, its fossil wind structures and its nineteenth century ejecta: the Homunculus and the Little Homunculus. 3D models of the Homunculus and the current interacting winds will be presented. Questions still persist on how Eta Carina might explain the distant supernova imposters, some of which precede actual supernovae.


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