Unparalleled Look into the Most Luminous & Massive Star Within 10,000 Light-Years

Eta Carinae is a binary system that comprises two massive stars - one of which is the most luminous and massive star within 10,000 light-years - whose eccentric orbits bring them unusually close every 5.5 years. Both produce powerful gaseous outflows called stellar winds, which enshroud the stars and hinder efforts to directly measure their properties. A long-term study led by astronomers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center combined data from NASA satellites, ground-based observing campaigns, and theoretical modeling to produce the most comprehensive picture of Eta Carinae to date. New findings include Hubble Space Telescope images that show decade-old shells of ionized gas racing away from the largest star at a million miles an hour, and new 3D models that reveal never-before-seen features of the stars' interactions.