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Explosive Star System's Turbulent Relationship Revealed In Best View Yet

First Posted: Oct 21, 2016 05:42 AM EDT
Rare Celestial Event
Can the search for aliens meet with more success after 11 years due to a rare line-up of stars? (Image used for representation only)
(Photo : NASA/ESA via Getty Images)

According to latest observations from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI), one of the most famous stellar pairs in the astronomy depicts strange structures in the windy zonal area between the two stars. About 7,500 light-years away from the Earth, a star system, named Eta Carinae, is located in the constellation Carina.

The new images that have been released on October 19 present details of the windy zone between the two stars which have never been seen before. This could help the researchers understand the working of massive star evolutions in a better way, according to Space.com. ESO scientists have created an amazing video of the Eta Carinae system to probe into the deepest view of the star system till date.

"Our dreams came true, because we can now get extremely sharp images in the infrared," stated Gerd Weigelt, a scientific member at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. Leading the research, he added further, "The VLTI provides us with a unique opportunity to improve our physical understanding of Eta Carinae and many other key objects."

Eta Carinae star system is well known for a massive eruption that was observed by astronomers, back in 1830s. It was discovered much later that the larger star had created the epic eruption blowing out large amounts of gas and dust rapidly. The explosion is visible in the two lobes around the Eta Carinae system, called 'the Homunculus Nebula'.

The windy zone between the two stars reaches extremely high temperatures and is covered in X-ray radiations. It is nearly 1,000 times smaller than the surrounding nebula. That made the observation of this region extremely difficult either on the ground or in space.

The research team made use of three auxiliary telescopes out of the four present at the observatory to create an interferometer. The interferometer then helped the scientists to look at the target in much greater detail by combining light from multiple telescopes. The findings depicted a fan-shaped structure between the two stars. The structure gets created when the winds from the smaller star clash into the denser winds of the larger star.

According to the detailed report published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, astronomers were able to measure the wind velocities that will help in the creation of more accurate computer models.

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