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Understanding Eta Carinae

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Title Understanding Eta Carinae
Period 01 / 2009 - 01 / 2013
Status Current
Research number OND1333393
Data Supplier NWO

Abstract

Eta Carinae, one of the most extreme and fascinating objects in our Galaxy, is a supermassive interacting binary at the centre of a bipolar nebula, expanding at about 500 km~s$^{-1}$. Finding the mechanisms behind Eta's appearance and behaviour is the main goal of this investigation. We will produce numerical models of this nebula, in parallel with participation in several major observational campaigns. We presume that the gaseous 'skirt' surrounding Eta is an equatorial 'excretion disk' formed by the interacting binary, that the bipolar 'Homunculus' nebula above and below this plane is due to the collision between the material ejected in the 1840 `Giant Eruption' and the disk, and the 'Little Homunculus' similarly in the smaller 1890 eruption. Results in 3-D radiation hydrodynamics achieved in our Theory Group prove that we have the capability of doing this. We have already extensively explored the general types of flow pattern expected here; now we will construct specific models for quantitative comparison with this wonderful object, which many believe to be a key to understanding a variety of hitherto unexplained phenomena in and around massive stars, be they binary or single.

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Project leader Prof.dr. V. Icke

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