Trending News

Eta Carinae Likely a Binary Star, New Research Indicates


A team of astronomers detailed how an extremely bright star called Eta Carinae seems to be as impossibly luminous as it is.

According to, the star has stumped astronomers for some time because it shines five times as bright as the sun and is a one-of-a-kind in the Milky Way. Researchers using data from the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes spotted five similar stars in neighboring galaxies and detailed their findings in The Astrophysical Journal.

"The most massive stars are always rare, but they have tremendous impact on the chemical and physical evolution of their host galaxy," study lead scientist Rubab Khan, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a news release.

Deemed "twins" to Eta Carinae, these stars are actually pairs of two called "binary stars." Because the twins share the characteristic cloud of gas and dust surrounding it, the astronomers determined Eta Carinae is likely a binary star as well.

Located about 7,500 light years from Earth, the eruption that caused Eta Carinae's gas cloud remains mysterious, but the new research indicates it is not one-of-a-kind, albeit rare.

"With Spitzer we see a steady increase in brightness starting at around 3 microns and peaking between 8 and 24 microns," Khan said. "By comparing this emission to the dimming we see in Hubble's optical images, we could determine how much dust was present and compare it to the amount we see around Eta Carinae."

© 2024 University Herald, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Join the Discussion
Real Time Analytics