Spitzer telescope reveals eta Carinae in its galactic context

eta-carinae-clouds-1600
Image source and text source

Such a tremendous outflow of energy comes at a great cost to the surrounding nebula. The infrared light from the star destroys particles of dust, sculpting cavities and leaving pillars of denser material that point back to the star. Spitzers’ infrared vision lets us see the dust, shown in red, as well as clouds of hot, glowing gas that appear green. Spitzer released an image of a small part of this nebula in 2005. Subsequent observations greatly expanded our view of the entire region, and the data were combined and reprocessed as part of the extended Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (GLIMPSE) project. The infrared images were captured with the Spitzer’s infrared array camera. The pictures are three-channel composites, showing emission from wavelengths of 3.6 microns (blue), 4.5 microns (green), and 8.0 microns (red).

I have posted previously about eta Carinae and the likelihood it may go supernova very soon. Suffice to say it is one of the most massive stars in the Galaxy.

Note: eta Carinae has been known to be binary since 2005.

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