Washington: Scientists have created the first high-resolution 3-D model of the expanding cloud produced by Eta Carinae`s eruption in the 19th century.
The model of the Homunculus Nebula reveals protrusions, trenches, holes and irregularities in its molecular hydrogen emission.
The protrusions appear near a dust skirt seen at the nebula`s center in visible light (inset) but not found in this study, so they constitute different structures.
Thomas Madura said that their model indicates that this vast shell of gas and dust has a more complex origin than is generally assumed and for the first time, they have seen evidence suggesting that intense interactions between the stars in the central binary played a significant role in sculpting the nebula we see today.
Using the European Southern Observatory`s Very Large Telescope and its X-Shooter spectrograph over two nights in March 2012, the team imaged near-infrared, visible and ultraviolet wavelengths along 92 separate swaths across the nebula, making the most complete spectral map to date.
The researchers have used the spatial and velocity information provided by this data to create the first high-resolution, fully 3-D model of the Homunculus Nebula and the new model contains none of the assumptions about the cloud`s symmetry found in previous studies, which was developed using only a single emission line of near-infrared light emitted by molecular hydrogen gas.
The nebulae, which emitted at least 10 times the sun`s mass between 1838 and 1845 making it the second-brightest star in the sky, briefly outshone Canopus.
The shape model has been published by the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.