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Watch the Great Eruption of a Massive Star: Eta Carinae

Watch the Great Eruption of a Massive Star: Eta Carinae

On January 25, 2022, the NASA’s Universe of Learning AstroViz team released a visualization of a massive stars’ explosion. This video, boasting over 47,000 views as of April 11th, explores the intense brightening seen in the 1840s and, using data from Hubble, Chandra, and Spitzer, explores in 3D the complex nested structures of gas and dust that were expelled in that event. Eta Carinae is a prime example of the outbursts in the dying stages of very high mass stars.

In addition, the team has released a shorter video focused on the layers seen in visible, Hydrogen Alpha, ultraviolet, and x-ray observations. The sequence, “Eta Carinae: 2D Images to 3D Models”, elucidates the 3D structures, creates a vivid mental model for the viewer, and will enhance informal learning presentations. External evaluation has demonstrated statistically significant gains in viewers’ understanding of the science concepts explained in the video, with viewers using words such as “amazed,” “interested,” and “curious” to describe how they feel while watching the video.

Accessible learning resources were also developed with a 3D printable model and a sonification of the Eta Car system, as well other resources for blind and visually impaired learners.

(NASA Science Activation Reward No. NNX16AC65A)

A glowing white hourglass textured with dark markings hangs in the darkness. The brightest portion lies towards the center of the hourglass and blue streaks of light emanate far out of the center and slightly out of the ends. The shape sits in front of a circular red blob of color that looks like a crumpled piece of velvet. The red blob and hourglass are surrounded by a fuzzy purple color to the left and right that is cloudlike and not quite focused.