NASA | Superstar Eta Carinae Shoots Cosmic Rays

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A new study using data from NASA’s NuSTAR space telescope suggests that the most luminous and massive stellar system within 10,000 light-years, Eta Carinae, is accelerating particles to high energies — some of which may reach Earth as cosmic rays.

Cosmic rays with energies greater than 1 billion electron volts (eV) come to us from beyond our solar system. But because these particles — electrons, protons and atomic nuclei — all carry an electrical charge, they veer off course whenever they encounter magnetic fields. This scrambles their paths and masks their origins. Eta Carinae, located about 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina, contains a pair of massive stars whose eccentric orbits bring them unusually close every 5.5 years. The stars contain 90 and 30 times the mass of our Sun.

Both stars drive powerful outflows called stellar winds, which emit low-energy X-rays where they collide. NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope observes gamma rays — light packing far more energy than X-rays — from a source in the direction of Eta Carinae.

But Fermi’s vision isn’t as sharp as X-ray telescopes, so astronomers couldn’t confirm the connection. To bridge this gap, astronomers turned to NASA’s NuSTAR observatory. Launched in 2012, NuSTAR can focus X-rays of much greater energy than any previous telescope.

The team examined NuSTAR observations acquired between March 2014 and June 2016, along with lower-energy X-ray observations from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton satellite over the same period. NuSTAR detects a source emitting X-rays above 30,000 eV, some three times higher than can be explained by shock waves in the colliding winds. For comparison, the energy of visible light ranges from about 2 to 3 eV.

The researchers say both the X-ray emission s een by NuSTAR and the gamma-ray emission seen by Fermi is best explained by electrons accelerated in shock waves where the winds collide. The X-rays detected by NuSTAR and the gamma rays detected by Fermi arise from starlight given a huge energy boost by interactions with these electrons. Some of the superfast electrons, as well as other accelerated particles, must escape the system and perhaps some eventually wander to Earth, where they may be detected as cosmic rays. Zoom into Eta Carinae, where the outflows of two massive stars collide and shoot accelerated particles cosmic rays into space.

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Music: “Expectant Aspect” from Killer Tracks

This video is public domain and may be downloaded from NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio at:


Evolken says:

When are you going to release despacito 3 ?

RizeVize says:

This reminds me of how little we are actually in comparison to what is out there….

OsakaRose Sakura says:

A cosmic ray gun! NANU, NANU! Mork of Ork would have loved this one!

Skitarii Soldier says:

That's the Eye of Terror, silly!

Ben says:

I don't think there telling the whole truth its to do with our own sun and the grand solar minium and our own earth's reduced magnitosphere

ezzz9 says:

interesting. But really? We have to read a video? I can do voice over for you. I have done it in the past.

patrick williams says:

Hey Nasa What about investing about a lunar project instead of spending all your money on diverses projects ? Wouldn't it better to invest and research to etablish a lunar base instead of having the ISS ? It would be way better to have a lunar base to make scientific experiments than having the iss.

I mean everything would be easier from the moon without atmosphere. telescopes, radiotelescopes, space experiments…
I think you should have invested in the aerospike engines since the beginning even if you had budget issues you would have better cut the budget of other projects for this one. If you reached the Moon it's only because you focused on one main project instead of variety and different ones.

Hopefully now that private companies seem to appear there is gonna be competition. Plus the chinese space agency is becomming big and advanced. There is gonna be a new space race. you better move your ass. However i'm quite sure that the air force and some private companies have developped far superior engines than yours… Ask lockheed or northrop about their secret projects.

Cherry Pie says:

So are these cosmic rays harmful to earth?

The Bee's Knees says:

Thank you NASA, very cool.

Emma Emma Emma says:

This is the coolest shit ever like WOW

Victor Couto says:

Amazing! I'm waiting for the mega big blast.

Świnia NA Wypasie says:

Nibiru is Flat??

Danny Kerl says:

i luv canopus of carina

Carmen Arsine says:

Splendido sono senza parole dal emozione

BananaBandit says:

Pew pew pew

Beyond The Imaginary Icewall says:

Totally unrelated to this video: ALCON is coming to MN!!!

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