Homunculus Nebula


The Homunculus Nebula is an emission nebula surrounding the massive star system Eta Carinae. The nebula is embedded within the much larger Eta Carinae Nebula, an ionized hydrogen (H II) region. The Homunculus (from the Latin meaning Little Man) is believed to have been ejected in an enormous outburst from Eta Carinae. Light from this event reached Earth in 1841, creating a brightening event in the night sky which was visible from the Earth's surface at the time. During the event (as seen from Earth) Eta Carinae briefly became the second-brightest star in the sky, after Sirius; but the ejected gas and dust have since obscured much of its light. The massive — near supernova — explosion produced two polar lobes, and a large but thin equatorial disk, all moving outward at 670 km/s (1,500,000 mph). Future eruptions remain a distinct possibility.

Though Eta Carinae is some 7,500 light-years away, its luminosity is so great that relatively small structures only 10 billion miles across — about the diameter of our solar system — can be distinguished. Dust lanes, tiny condensations, and strange radial streaks all appear with unprecedented clarity for such distant phenomena. The irregular, blob-like lobes of the outer ejecta are much fainter than the brilliant central star, by about 100,000 times. Excess violet light escapes along the equatorial plane between the bipolar lobes. Apparently there is relatively little dust-debris between the lobes, as most of the blue light is able to escape. On the other hand, the lobes contain large amounts of dust which preferentially absorb blue light, causing the lobes to appear reddish.

Read more about Homunculus Nebula:  Shape

Other articles related to "homunculus nebula, homunculus, nebula":

Homunculus Nebula - Shape
... theorize the unusual shape of the Homunculus nebula can be attributed to a "peanut" shape of the star — or a binary star system (see below) ... The Homunculus-Eta Carinae system is currently one of the most massive that can be studied in great detail ...
Objects Within The Carina Nebula - Homunculus Nebula
... Within the large bright nebula is a much smaller feature, immediately surrounding Eta Carinae itself ... This small nebula is known as the Homunculus Nebula (from the Latin meaning Little Man), and is believed to have been ejected in an enormous outburst in 1841 which briefly made Eta Carinae the second-brightest ...