[Image of EtaCar3d]
Three-Dimensional Image of Eta Carinae

This is a unique three-dimensional image of the star Eta Carinae, with its twin lobes and equatorial disk of expanding dust and gas. The picture, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, was assembled from two images of Eta Carinae take 17 months apart (April 1994, September 1995). The motion of the gas and dust between the observations, and Hubble's high resolution, allows astronomers to combine and encode the images to reveal the true three-dimensional geometry of the system.

To see the 3D structure the image must be viewed through color 3D glasses with the left eye looking through a red filtered lens, and right eye looking through a blue filtered lens.

The resulting view clearly shows the nebula's "barbell" shape of two giant, roughly spherical lobes of ejecta, with the bottom-left lobe in the foreground and the top-right lobe tilted away. Fast-moving material along the star's equator lies in a thin disk between the lobes, like an LP record between two basketballs? The image shows curious streamers of material flowing from the disk far out into space.

The images were taken in violet light with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The star is more than 8,000 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina.

Credit: Jon Morse (University of Colorado), Kris Davidson (University of Minnesota), and NASA

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space

Created by R. Mark Elowitz
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