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    Eta Carinae

    Scientists Receive Unique Images of Stellar System That Might Threaten Earth

    © Photo: ESO/G.Weigelt
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    A team of German researchers obtained unique images of the mysterious Eta Carinae stellar system.

    Using the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile, the experts from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) managed to receive a very detailed image of the stellar monster.

    Eta Carinae is said to be likely to explode someday threatening life on Earth, despite the fact that the stellar system is located approximately 7,500 light-years away from our planet.

    The stellar system consists of two stars, one of which is bigger than the other and "100 times more massive and five million times more luminous than our sun," the Institute's official website said.

    "Our dreams came true, because we can now get extremely sharp images in the infrared regime. The ESO VLTI provides us with a unique opportunity to improve our physical understanding of Eta Carinae and many other key objects", the head of the research team, Gerd Weigelt said.

    The new photos helped the scientists to examine an unusual space in the central part of the system, between the large and the small stars. In this space, stellar winds of both stars intertwine with each other and create unusual twists and structures.

    In addition, the researchers also managed to accurately measure the speed with which the larger star is losing its weight. These measurements are necessary to assess how soon Eta Carinae will turn into a supernova, resulting in an explosion that could potentially threaten the Earth.

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