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Published August 1991 | Published
Journal Article Open

Hubble Space Telescope imaging of η Carinae


We present new high spatial resolution observations of the material around η Carinae obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field/Planetary Camera. The star η Carinae is one of the most massive and luminous stars in our Galaxy, and has been episodically expelling significant quantities of gas over the last few centuries. The morphology of the bright central nebulosity (the homunculus) indicates that it is a thin shell with very well defined edges, and is clumpy on 0".2 (~10^(16)cm) scales. An extension to the northeast of the star {NN/NS using Walborn's [ApJL, 204, L17 ( 1976)] nomenclature} appears to be a stellar jet and its associated bow shock. The bow shock is notable for an intriguing series of parallel linear features across its face. The S ridge and the W arc appear to be part of a "cap" of emission located to the SW and behind the star. Together, the NE jet and the SW cap suggest that the symmetry axis for the system runs NE-SW rather than SE-NW, as previously supposed. Overall, the data indicate that the material around the star may represent an oblate shell with polar blowouts, rather than a bipolar flow.

Additional Information

© 1991 American Astronomical Society. Provided by the NASA Astrophysics Data System. Received 17 April 1991. This research was supported by NASA through various contracts and grants to the WF/PC science team. J .J .H. acknowledges NASA and Caltech support to IPAC.

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Published - 1991AJ____102__654H.pdf


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